Take a few moments to think about the following biblical people: Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Judith, Jeremiah, Mary, Joseph, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Paul. What comes to mind? Now think about these folks: Jean Vanier, Mother Teresa, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Gianna Molla, Dorothy Day, Craig Keilberger, Steven Lewis. What comes to mind?
Did you remember some of these people for the “missions” to which they were called, and, in some cases, continue to carry on? How many of you thought of the fact that some of these people are married, single, ordained or consecrated? Yes, our call to a certain lifestyle is God-given but equally important and related is the “fire that burns in one’s being” – a call to carry out a mission and be who we are called to be. ‘Vocation’ is composed of all these interrelated aspects which affect the nitty-gritty of our entire lives.
In the1997 document, “New Vocations for a New Europe”, John Paul II stressed the promotion of a new ‘vocational culture’ in young people and families. By culture the pope “means a broad collection of attitudes, values and behaviors that combine to stir up in a person the freedom to recognize and respond to a call from God. The components of such a culture are gratitude, openness to mystery, a sense of individual incompleteness and the ability to dream and think big.”
In 2002, the Third Continental Congress for Vocations to Ordained Ministry and Consecrated Life was held in Montreal. In 2003, the CCCB published the document, “Conversion, Discernment, Mission: Fostering a Vocation Culture in North America” which emphasized the call of God to all people, not only to those who serve the Church as ordained ministers and consecrated people. Their recommendations include pastoral care of the family, outreach to youth and young adults, the formation of welcoming, vibrant Christ-centered parishes, invitations to consider a church vocation. They recommended that we especially focus on prayer, evangelization, experiencing Church, mentoring and discernment.
Surprising? Not at all. We know that by continuing to build a foundation of faith people are enabled to hear and respond to the call of God throughout their lives.
North American Church Pastoral Plan The North American Church has published a pastoral plan for vocations which is entitled: Conversion, Discernment, Mission: Fostering a Vocation Culture in North America
What is a Vocation Culture? It is a culture in which each Christian is empowered to identify and respond to the mission to which he or she is called as a member of the Body of Christ, in and for the world.