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7. Let us anticipate the future…

It is not the time for sterile lamentations. There is distressing lack of vocations to the priesthood and to religious life in the Church today, at least in developed and traditionally Catholic countries.  It is conceivable that pulling the strings in this regard is the Spirit himself… Have we not said many times that God is the only one who can write straight on crooked lines? Is it unthinkable that the Spirit is leading the Church into a new era, in which lay people recover the leading role warranted by their baptism, and they become major players in the new evangelization? It is a hypothesis that one should not dismiss with skepticism or with derisive smiles. In any case, we lose nothing if we take action under this assumption…

The Church itself, through the hierarchy, has already taken some steps that can be the anticipation of the not so distant future—the Church has started ordaining as permanent deacons married men of proven virtue and theological preparation. What has the Vincentian Family done so far to prepare lay people for promotion to permanent diaconate? Why can we not think of a permanent Vincentian diaconate? Flights of fancies do not cost money.  Let us see who flies higher…

These signs of the times are a call for the entire Vincentian Family. Few religious families have as much potential to get lay people into the ministry as the Vincentian Family has in the Church today. Let us think clearly and prepare our laity for the Church of the future. Let us prepare our laity to be authentic evangelizers and leaders with important roles in our pastoral ministry; let us create schools for catechists and evangelizers. Let us share with them our usual pastoral tasks. We cannot leave our parishes and our primary pastoral responsibilities to the good will of priests and elderly sisters until they can no longer function due to old age. And it is not enough to have regular volunteers… In some instances, we will have to count on people who are young enough to be able to encourage and energize the life of the people of God, whether full time or part time. And the honest worker is deserving of an honorable salary. Some less developed countries are ahead of us in this matter. It would be good to learn from their positive experiences and bring them to our churches in the West.

 


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