Good advice on promoting vocations

At the Colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, Fr Stephen Langridge, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, gave a presentation explaining the rationale of vocations promotion and in particular, the change of model from recruitment to discernment.

He quoted Pope Benedict who pointed out that the priesthood is not like other professions: we cannot simply recruit people by using the right kind of publicity. We need to accompany those who are discerning their vocation, and be ready to give spiritual direction and advice. If a young man confides that he thinks he might have a vocation, it is no good telling him to come back after he has finished at university.

Fr Langridge pointed out that the process of discernment involves a conversion of life - turning away from sin, especially habits of sin, being involved with the service of others, and developing a structured rule of life appropriate to one who is considering preparing for sacred ministry.

At the same time, there is a need for conversion of mind - many young men come to the discernment of a vocation with a background of poor catechesis. Knowing the teaching of the Church and studying the Catechism can help to avoid the kind of problematic behaviour such as when a young man goes on various Catholic events and takes part in devotions, but reverts to a pagan lifestyle when away from the Church or the group or movement which nurtures his life of faith. On the path toward the seminary, it is important to know what needs be in the kitbag, but also what needs to be thrown overboard.

Fr Langridge is currently engaged, with the help of seminarians, in preparing the new Southwark Vocations Centre (see various posts on the Southwark Vocations blog.) His talk to the priests was both encouraging and challenging, and will help priests themselves to discern how they can promote vocations.

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