“Come and see!”
Vocational pastoral and consecrated life – Horizons and hopes
An experience of a great event
Starting the year of oblate vocations I want to share with you an experience of a great event, an opportunity given to me at the beginning of Advent, only one week before the solemnity of Immaculate Conception.
The Congregation for the institutes of consecrated life and the societies of apostolic life had organized a big international congress for religious, working in the campus of vocational pastoral from the first to the third of December at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. The main idea was to give religious people working with young people the opportunity to listen to each other and to brainstorm about new horizons and hopes for their work with regard to the upcoming synod of bishops next year which will have the theme: “the youth, faith and vocational discernment.” So more than 750 consecrated woman and men took the opportunity given by the Vatican to join this great event with the programmatic title: “Come and see! Vocational pastoral and consecrated life – Horizons and hopes”. Apart from me, three oblates were also participating, two from Italy and one from Poland, all of them working for vocations in their units.
But what was a scholastic of the International Scholasticate doing there? That is a legitimate question! As I am studying consecrated life since two months at the Theological Institute Claretianum here in Rome, I was asked by the authority of the University to take part in this special event together with another young religious man from the Philippines and a young Bolivian sister. As young consecrated people we had a very simple but important task: Listening attentively, summarizing the main points and then giving an overview about new horizons and hopes. That was quite a serious job! So we had two days of listening to the Prefect and his Secretary, former Superior Generals, priest and sisters working in vocational pastoral from all over the world, discussions, summarizing, sleeping a little less and on Sunday we had to present our results to the whole assembly. Climbing the stage our knees were shaking a little, of course we do not get to every day talk in front of more than 750 people. But everything went well and we were happy to receive an applause from the assembly!
I just want to share with you some of the main points that we highlighted during our talk which could be a stimulus to us as Oblates starting a year of vocations. Obviously our results are neither complete nor the only thing to say about vocation and how we can help young people today to find it. We just put everything that seemed important to us for a future pastoral work for vocations.
Here some of our results:
- Vocational pastoral has to lead young people to a personal encounter with Christ
- We have to create personal relationships with young people, listen to them, accompany them, love them
- We have to go where they are to understand who they are
- We have to be rooted in the Word of God and we don’t have to forget that the gospel of the vocation is demanding
- Our community life has to be a reflex of the Trinitarian life, that means creating fraternal communities, for that it’s necessary to humanize our community life
- The importance of welcoming cultural and spiritual differences
- Living with hope and joy
- Walking in the footsteps of Christ
- Living our own vocation with passion
- Showing the beauty of our religious vocation
- Unify vocational pastoral and youth pastoral
- Reinforce pastoral for families
- Collaboration of charisms and inter-congregationally
- Change mentality (metanoia) and vision
- Open ourselves to an attitude of trust
- Challenge the young people and let us be challenged by them
- Young people have a huge thirst of God
- Our charisms testify and charm
We have an immense hope that there will be a future for religious life in all our countries and we believe that God is still calling. May we be his collaborators!