From November 19th to December 1st, the seventy-five participants of the First International Encounter of Vocational Promotion Ministers, gathered together at the International Center of Formation (CIF) in the Motherhouse of the Congregation in Paris and shared the missionary joy of their Vincentian vocation. More than seventy confreres, from almost every Province, Vice-Province and Region responded to the invitation of the Superior General. We believe that reality is a reflection of the interest and the importance of this ministry of vocation promotion in the present-day life of the Congregation of the Mission.
In the context of this Encounter we have expressed our option for a Renewed Culture of Vocations [Letter of the Superior General, January 25, 2018], which option when experienced and lived from the perspective of the gospel, revitalizes our passion to follow Jesus Christ, evangelizer of the poor (a following of Christ in every aspect of our lives).
In this way we can create an attitude, a sensitivity and a pedagogy that will help us put in place a lifestyle that favors the establishment of a culture of vocations in each one of our local communities and that will, at the same time, allow us to cultivate a Vincentian spirituality of being called.
We want to present some convictions and proposals:
Present state of our missionary vocation: the vocation of the Missionaries of the Congregation of the Mission, the vocation of the Brothers as well as the vocation of the priests, enjoys a great relevance and possesses a mystical power of actionthat if lived in its fullness will make all our works and ministries true seed-beds of vocations. A concern with regard to the crisis of a reduced number of candidates should not be the primary motivation for our ministry on behalf of young people, rather we should be impelled by a culture of vocation and a missionary passion to proclaim Jesus Christ, evangelizer of the poor … this Jesus who continues to call young people today in order to continue His mission. Vocations in our provinces are always a gift from God and we ought to give thanks for that gift.
On-gong formation: we consider the ongoing formation of the missionaries a priority since it is through this type formation that the confreres will live-out their vocation in such a manner as to become persons who, through their lifestyle, “call” others to follow Jesus. Through their witness and their missionary joy, the confreres will be a prophetic sign for young people because the church does not grow through proselytism but through attraction (EG, #14).
Accompaniment of young persons: we are aware of the fact that it is urgent that we, as members of the Congregation of the Mission, commit ourselves to the ministry of accompanying young persons in their process of vocational discernment. Thus, an important element of our missionary charism is to support young persons and offer them the opportunity to discern their vocation from a faith perspective. At the same time our accompaniment provides them with a further opportunity to listen to the voice of God who calls them to commit their lives to the mission of evangelizing the poor.
Vincentian Vocational Pedagogy and Lines of Action
In Establishing a Vincentian culture of vocations, the commitment of all the members of the Congregation is most important. Therefore, allow us to suggest the following operational/pedagogical lines of action for each of the three distinct levels of our Congregation:
Superior General and General Council
- To create an International Commission of Vocational Promotion
- To designate one of the assistants to accompany this commission.
- To facilitate the exchange of missionaries among the provinces, thus fostering a deeper sense of solidarity.
- To create opportunities for interprovincial exchanges among those who are in the process of being formed.
- To focus the next General Assembly on the theme of a culture of vocations.
- To promote a review of the works of the provinces and to do this from the paradigm that a Vincentian culture of vocations offers us.
- In the different Conferences of Visitors to promote opportunities for formation in this area of creating a culture of vocation.
Visitors and the members of their council
- To commit themselves to the implementation of a Vincentian culture of vocations.
- To establish a Team of Vocation Ministers.
- From the perspective of the reality of the province and from the perspective of a culture of vocations, to develop/define a vocational promotion plan.
- To provide the opportunity for the Vocation Director to dedicate himself full-time to this ministry.
- In each work of the province, to give priority to a qualitative community life and to missionary witness.
- To ask each local community to designate one individual who will take responsibility for this service of vocational animation.
- To connect vocational promotion with the members of the worldwide Vincentian Family.
- To guarantee the formation of formators.
- To establish a formation structure that integrates vocational discernment, initial formation and ongoing formation.
- Young people and lay persons should be members of the Vocational Promotion Team
- To commit themselves to ongoing formation so that they continually clothe themselves anew in the spirit of Jesus Christ evangelizing the poor and at the same time deepen their love for their vocation.
- To study, in-depth, the Church’s and the Congregation’s documents on this theme of a culture of vocations.
- Through their witness and the means of communication, to make visible the vocation of the Congregation of the Mission.
- To take advantage of every opportunity to sow the seeds of vocation so that the whole life of each confrere gives witness to this culture of vocations.
- Pray personally and as a community for vocations.
At the feet of Saint Vincent, the mystic of charity, we, the directors and confreres responsible for vocational promotion ministry in our provinces, vice-provinces, regions and international missions, renew our commitment to the understanding of the Congregation of the Mission expressed in this document, as well as the convictions that we have pointed out … convictions that spring forth from a Vincentian vocational pedagogy which we assume responsibility for as we engage in the ministry that has been entrusted to us.
We are certain that the culture of vocations represents the dream and the mission of our Founder because we know that workers will multiply, attracted by the perfume of such charity.
Paris, 30 November 2018
Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conference, Documents, translators: Helen Marie Law, DC (Vol. 1), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 1-13b), James King, CM (Vol. 1-2), Francis Germovnik, CM (Vol. 1-8, 13a-13b [Latin]), Esther Cavanagh, DC (Vol. 2), Ann Mary Dougherty, DC (Vol. 12); Evelyne Franc, DC (Vol. 13a-13b), Thomas Davitt, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Glennon E. Figge, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), John G. Nugent, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Andrew Spellman, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]); edited: Jacqueline Kilar, DC (Vol. 1-2), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 2-13b), Julia Denton, DC [editor-in-chief] (Vol. 3-10, 13a-13b), Paule Freeburg, DC (Vol. 3), Mirian Hamway, DC (Vol. 3), Elinor Hartman, DC (Vol. 4-10, 13a-13b), Ellen Van Zandt, DC (Vol. 9-13b), Ann Mary Dougherty (Vol. 11-12); annotated: John W. Carven, CM (Vol. 1-13b); New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2009. Volume III, p. 258.