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Creating a Vocations-Friendly Church in Aotearoa NZ

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Creating a Vocations-Friendly Church in Aotearoa NZ. Overview …. Vocational un-awareness Vocations Culture - ‘Vocations Friendly’ Church Whose responsibility? Prevailing fears Challenge: Multi-Dimensional approach

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Overview ….
  • Vocational un-awareness
  • Vocations Culture - ‘Vocations Friendly’ Church
  • Whose responsibility?
  • Prevailing fears
  • Challenge: Multi-Dimensional approach
  • CVMA’s story – addressing the call to create a Vocation-Friendly Church
Vocational un-awareness …
  • Older Back-yard eagle chickens
  • Young people
  • A ‘vocations-friendly Church’
  • Jesus’ dream
  • Hypothetically …
A Vocations Culture / ‘Vocations-friendly’ Church …

= a repeated motif of John Paul II throughout the last decade …

1st Continental Vocations Congress

(Sao Paolo, Brazil, 1994)

“We must create

a culture of vocations

in our Church ….”

(Message from JP II)

2nd Continental Vocations Congress –

Rome, 1997 …

The shortage of specific vocations is, above all, an absence of the vocational consciousness of life, or rather the absence of a culture of vocations .. .

A new culture of vocation is a component of the new evangelisation. It is a culture of life, and openness to life, and the meaning of life…

NVNE # 13

3rd Continental Vocations Congress – Montreal, 2002
  • The promotion of vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life cannot be understood in isolation from the universal baptismal call to holiness and service …

CDM, Montreal, 2002, p 12

CDM , Montreal, 2002:….

… in order to engage the whole church in a commitment to creating a ‘Vocation Culture’, one must first recognise the primary vocation of each and every Christian: to life and love; holiness and discipleship; witness and service. All baptised Catholics share in this universal call; all must be assisted in the task of hearing it and giving it a full and committed response … CDM p42

A quantum leap:

Unawareness …


‘Vocation-friendly Church’ !!

Challenge …

The fundamental pastoral challenge

is that of creating a ‘Vocation Culture’

(in the Church of North America):

that is,

a culture in which each Christian

is empowered to identify and respond to the mission to which he or she is called

as a member of the Body of Christ, in and for the world …

(CDM, Montreal 2002, pp 11 & 12)

what is a vocations culture vocations friendly church
What IS a ‘Vocations Culture’ … ‘Vocations-friendly Church’?

(Archdiocese of Regina, Canada - )

A ‘Vocation Culture’ / Vocation-friendly Church is one in which each Christian is empowered to identify and respond to the mission to which he or she is called as a member of the Body of Christ, in and for the world

The promotion of vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life cannot be understood in isolation from the universal baptismal call to holiness and service …
Every vocation is necessary and relative. There needs to be an ecclesial community … a vocational culture wherein every person can find their own vocation.

The ordained ministry exists to bring out all the other vocations in the church and all the other vocations are there to bring out the ordained ministries in reciprocal communion.

NVNE – Rome 1997

…Vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life – and to single and married life, to lay ministry and Christian witness in a secular society – will flourish in a church where each member can identify and concretely live out the Father’s call to life and holiness, the Son’s call to discipleship and communion, and the Spirit’s call to witness and mission.

(CDM: Conversion, Discernment, Mission,

3rd Continental Vocations Congress, Montreal 2002, pp11&12)

vocational awareness
Vocational Awareness …

Growing up - knowing about life-giving options …and considering each one seriously before choosing the one that will bring me fullness of life [in order that] …

Vocations Ministry …

Although vocations ministry begins with the more generic notion of the call to life and love, and gradually expands to include an explicit claiming of a call to holiness and a share in the mission of the Church, eventually it converges on a question that is specific:

Am I called to serve as a priest or deacon in this diocese?
  • [Am I called] to life as a brother,

sister or consecrated secular in this

specific congregation or institute? …

  • [Am I called] to be the husband or wife

of this particular person? …

  • [Am I called] to live a single life in this time and place, exercising this profession?

(CDM – Montreal 2002, p 83)

fostering vocations culture creating a vocations friendly church
Fostering ‘Vocations Culture’ …creating a ‘Vocations-Friendly Church’ …

 

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fears !!!…

There are those who fear that widening the idea of vocation will be harmful to the specific promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life;

the reality is exactly the opposite. …

NVNE, Rome 1997 #26

no need to fear
No need to fear!

The decline in any one vocation negatively impacts the whole body of the Church, and each of its constitutive members.

Similarly, attention to the growth

and development of one should lead to a vocational flourishing of all the vocations in the Church

CDM, Montreal, 2002 p56

The universalisation

of the

notion of vocation

in no way trivializes it! …

CDM, Montreal 2002, p43

Faithful priests and religious need not feel threatened by the legitimate ministry and mission of lay people …

Co-operation, rather than competition is required, marked by mutual respect and complimentarity in the promotion of all vocations …

CDM, Montreal, 2002 p56

Russell Shaw:

The aim [of creating a vocations-friendly Church] is discernment, not recruitment …

But, someone might object, won’t emphasising personal vocation distract people from heeding calls to the priesthood and consecrated life?

Won’t it make the real-life vocation shortage worse? …

The answer is no!! (cont …)

If many more Catholics practised ongoing discernment regarding their personal vocations, many more would discover that they are called to the priesthood or consecrated life.

The best solution to the dearth of new candidates [to consecrated and priestly life] – and to many other problems in contemporary Catholic life as well – is personal vocation.

Indeed, it may well be the only one!

Russell Shaw: “What Vocational Shortage” –

VocNET, Spring 2004

Responsibility ??

Only all of the gifts together can reveal the whole body of the Lord…

Every member of the Church,

excluding no-one,

has a responsibility for caring for vocations

NVNE, Rome 1997 #25

Responsibility ??

The vocational reality of the Church calls for a deep respect for the complimentarity and interdependence of all Church vocations.

Because the Church is at once community and communion of vocations,all its members need to be concerned and committed to the flowering of all vocations in the Church, and not merely their own. CDM, Montreal 2002, pp 46 &47

how to create a vocations friendly church
How to create a ‘Vocations-Friendly Church’ ??

Think and act …

‘globally’ (i.e. nationally)

and locally!

[Like Jesus] …those involved in pastoral work for vocations in groups, communities, parishes, schools and families need to be ...
  • sowers,
  • accompaniers,
  • educators,
  • formators


  • discerners.

These are the five dimensions

of the mystery of the call of God

NVNE, Rome, 1997

Full text @ UK Priest website:

Vatican II Vocations Ministry calls for a multi-faceted approach ~ ideally with national co-ordination

in creating


Vocation-Friendly Church …

Bishops’ Conference & all clergy …
  • Is the mind-set ‘Vocations Discernment/ministry’– or ‘recruitment’?
  • Do all clergy see themselves as vocations ministers!! (no exceptions!!)
  • Are designated Diocesan Vocations Directors: interested in the ‘big vocations picture’? OR only interested in fostering diocesan priesthood?
Congregational Leaders ~

all Religious Women & Men

  • Is the mind-set ‘Vocations Discernment/ministry” – or ‘recruitment’?
  • Do all members see themselves as vocations ministers!! (no exceptions!!)
  • Are designated Congregational Vocations Directors – interested in the ‘big picture’? OR only interested in fostering new membership?
Dioceses – Adult Faith Formators …
  • Do diocesan adult education courses / programmes address the issue of vocations …foster an inclusive vocation-culture?
  • Is prayer formation offered ?
  • Is discernment promoted as a way of life for adults?
Parish Councils & Leaders…
  • Do they pro-actively create a vocation-friendly local Church?
  • Do they actively foster an inclusive vocation-culture?
  • Are all vocations seen as equal?… promoted … who is addressed by titles? … is there an ‘even playing field’? ...
parishes cont
Parishes, cont …

Parishes cont …

  • How many parishioners are vocationally savvy? i.e. Do they recognise their own personal vocation?... that everyone has a vocation?
  • Are young people’s parents, grandparents, significant older adults (married or single) vocationally aware? … or still operating out of old expectations and stereotypes?
parishes cont1
Parishes cont …
  • Are young adults invited and welcome to participate in the ministry and life of the parish?
  • Do parish staff & leaders consciously sow vocational seeds with young people?
Young Adult Ministry @

diocesan and parish levels …

  • Preferential Option for the young!
  • “For the sake of the Church’s future mission, significant financial, human and spiritual resources need to be invested in presence to and direct pastoral work with young Catholics”

CDM, Montreal, 2002, P 15

Young Adults cont …

“A priority for the pastoral action of the Church in North America over the next decade will be apreferential option for the young.

At present, decision-making in the Church – especially around the future of ordained ministry and consecrated life – is concentrated largely in the over-50 age group.

Even with the best intentions, the voices of younger Catholics are easily muted, their perspectives marginalised, their life-experience overlooked.”

CDM, Montreal 2002, p 61

Young Adults cont …

Montreal 2002:

“Young adult delegates …

ask the Church -

especially those who serve

as consecrated women and men,

deacons and priests …

for inspired example and personal mentoring,
  • for retreat opportunities and missionary experiences,


  • for a deeper knowledge and love of the Catholic tradition – its sacramental and liturgical life, its rich diversity of spiritual expression, its biblical and theological depth.
And they ask for a church community that welcomes and makes room for their idealism, gifts and considerable energy”

CDM, Montreal 2002, p 61

RE programmes:

primary and

secondary levels …

  • Are teachers (school & PPRE) vocationally educated and aware?
  • Is vocational theology included in the curriculum … from junior primary?
  • Is it consistently taught?
  • Do children leave school knowing about vocational options – as distinct from

‘career’ ??

Tertiary chaplaincy …
  • Are chaplains/campus ministers vocationally aware?
  • Are they pro-active in fostering

vocational awareness among staff and students?

Catholic media …
  • Vocations Language:

pre or post Vatican II?

  • Are they pro-active in fostering a vocations- culture … promoting Vatican II vocational theology?
  • Still fostering pre-Vatican II stereotypes? (e.g. photos & images)
Serra …
  • How can Serra collaborate with bishops, religious congregations, parishes, schools, youth ministers, etc to create a vocations-friendly Church?
Recommendation …

Work towards a national approach to vocations ministry…

  • Foster and present a co-ordinated approach to Vocations Ministry *
  • Help ensure that personnel and resources are most effectively utilised on behalf of the Church.*

(* CVMA Statutes)

  • Eliminate ‘re-inventing the wheel’!
west island national approach
‘West Island’ - National Approach …
  • 1995: CVMA – established
  • 1995-1997: Initial funding from donations:-

- Individual bishops

- Congregational leaders

- Some grassroots clergy &

religious communities

cvma milestones
CVMA milestones …
  • 1997 – VocNET
  • 1997 – NVA Week - August
  • 1997 → Commitment to biennial national conferences &

workshops in between

  • 1998 – funding from ACBC / ACLRI
  • 1998 - NVA Week kits
milestones cont
milestones cont …
  • 1999 - OzVocations website
  • 2000 - Pledge of funding from ACBC& ACLRI to establish National Office and EO Role (.6 - part-time)
  • 2001 – Establishment of EO’s role and National Office
  • 2001-2 – Expansion of CVMA’s ministries
  • 2003-2004 – Full-time EO
milestones cont1
milestones cont …
  • 2003-2004:

- increase in VocNET circulation to 2400

- production of new printed resources & posters;

- donations and income-generating

activities sufficient to fund new projects

- expansion of OzVocations website –

huge increase in ‘visitors’ & ‘hits’

- exploration of young-adult connections

into the future
Into the future …

2005: appointment of .4 Administrative Officer: will free EO for many projects, including…

  • producing more written and

website material and resources …

Into the future cont …
  • interstate and regional diocesan travel to:

- support/workshop vocations ministers

- meet bishops and congregational

leaders on ‘home turf’

- offer in-service & resources for RE teachers, youth ministers,

university chaplains, Serra clubs etc.

- liaise with regional Catholic media

into the future cont
Into the future cont …
  • etc etc

The sky’s the limit!