Sunday, April 05, 2009

Handbook for Parish Vocation Teams

Last Saturday we welcomed Bishop Pat Lynch to the parish for the launch of a new diocesan 'Handbook for Parish Vocation Teams'. The event was organised by the Catenians who have a special interest in promoting vocations and it was good to hear an encouraging speach from Vernon d'Cruz who has taken on responsibility for the Catenians' vocations work at a national level.
One of the Catenians, Andrew Martin, had worked hard to galavanise support for the day and I was pleased to see lay men and women, priests and deacons, as well as religious brothers and sisters from all over the diocese.
As part of the day I gave a presentation on the theology and scope of vocation in the Church ending with an introduction to the new Handbook itself. I explained that a 'culture of vocation' is one in which every person is enabled to take seriously the fact that they receive a personal call from the Lord. When we learn to be attentive to that call - which for most people will be marriage - and when we learn to value the various specific vocations in the Church, men and women will begin to listen to the 'still small voice of God' and to respond with generosity to whatever he has in mind for them. The idea of a Parish Vocation Team is that a group of people be formed in each parish who will use their wit and ingenuity to promote a 'culture of vocation' at every level of parish life. The practical importance of establishing a group like this is twofold: first of all, every parish is different and needs to find its own ways of promoting vocations. Secondly, there is no one 'recipe' - by getting lots of people involved in promoting vocations we will be able to share good ideas.
We have now sent two copies of the Handbook to every parish in the hope that parish priests will keep one and pass the other on to someone who can establish a team. The book contains everything needed to get them going, from a short explanation of the theology of vocation, through to a sample constitution and practical ideas they may be able to implement in their parishes.
After Easter I shall meet again with the Catenians to discuss how we can further this important project.

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