Friday, May 18, 2012

Spanish vocations video causes a stir!

This very popular video on YouTube has caused a good deal of comment in European vocation circles. The video is an initiative of the Spanish bishops' conference which was produced to mark that country's 'Seminary Day' which took place on March 19th last. As you will see, it features nine diocesan priests who tell in a dramatic way what the priesthood is.

Some of the controversial comment surrounds the language used - most notably that the priesthood is a 'steady' job. This is in a country where unemployment is very high. Many are questioning whether the rise in numbers entering seminary in Spain (up almost 5 per cent in the past year) are related to the high levels of unemployment among the young. A similar line of questioning emerged in Ireland around 2009-10 when numbers of vocations were on a temporary increase. It was clear in the Irish context that the economic downturn had little if anything  to do with the increase of entrants to seminary and religious life. The debate in Spain, however, has taken a more interesting turn. This increase, albeit modest, reflects a noticeable return of Spanish Catholics to the church.

Some of the factors in the upturn in vocation numbers in Spain are attributed to a renewal of fostering vocations primary, secondary level schools and also at universities. The World Youth Day event in Madrid last year is also cited as having a strong impact where the fruits of that will be seen in the coming years. This buoyancy in new vocations has prompted this video being launched by the Spanish bishops.

You can make up your own mind about the video and its contents. For me, anything that highlights priesthood in a positive fashion and that underlines that the priesthood is about bringing Jesus Christ to the world can only be good. Irish ecclesiastical authorities, please take note!

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