Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vocations Study Day

Yesterday I was at Oscott College for a study day organised by the Conference of Diocesan Directors of Vocation (CDDV). Each year the CDDV has a plenary meeting in November but since last year we have also organised a day open to a wider audience so that Vocations Directors can invite anyone they think might benefit.
This year the focus was on youth ministry and we were very pleased to have Avril Baigent come to speak to us about some recent research carried out on behalf of CYMFed.  A copy of the research, called 'Mapping the Terrain' can be found on the CYMFed website. The website also has useful resources for anyone planning a World Youth Day trip, including a risk assessment starter and safeguarding guidelines.
Avril's input led to some lively discussion particularly about how effectively the Church is passing on the faith to young people. Talking to young university students Pope John Paul II identified four stages in this area. He told them that first of all they must know their faith. Then they must ask questions so that they can understand their faith. Only then could they assimilate it and so live it in their decisions, choices and actions. And in that way, he said, faith becomes culture. What CYMFed's research seems to show is that there has been a failure at the first stage.
In the afternoon we had a presentation from Chris Smith, Vocations Promoter for Birmingham, on the current preparations for Invocation 2011. Plans for the festival are going well although, as ever, finances remain a concern. The most expensive items are the Marquees and Tepees but without these we wouldn't have the space for the event. (If any reader of this blog wants to make a donation please send me an email). Archbishop Mennini, the new Papal Nuncio will celebrate the closing Mass of the festival. The task now is to try to give it as much publicity as possible in order to ensure the word goes out to all our young people.
The final part of the afternoon was given over to an update from the National Office for Vocation on the preparations for Good Shepherd Sunday and the Vocations Voices project. So far we are very short of 'Voices' - young people aged between 18 & 35 willing to speak at the end of Mass on Sunday 15th May. The idea is that they will be given training to talk about the importance of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in the Church. It is a project that could be very beneficial and a lot of young people have expressed an interest but - probably because they think May is a long way away - very few have put themselves forward for the training without which we can't promote them as Voices. The training will be available online but people have to enroll for it soon or we will miss this opportunity to do a great deal of good for the Church....
Finally Fr Christopher Jamison spoke about a proposed new framework for the work of the National Office for Vocation. It has already received, in principle, episcopal approval and so the National Office is moving into a consultation phase. The framework will then give a steer to the National Office for its work and priorities over the next few years.

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