Helping Youth to Discern God’s Call: a task for us all

Work in the SVD vocations department last year was the most challenging on record. All our planned meetings, activities and events had to be cancelled. Like everyone else in Covid time we had to figure out new ways to go about our work. Meeting with prospective vocations is deeply personal and relational and we had to figure out how to do this onzoom and face-book.A daunting task, but we kept at it and gradually found some interesting new approaches.

We wanted to make our little “Vocational Chats” more attractive and develop ways to help candidates better discern their call. Eventually we came up with three presentations—a less active meditation for Lent season and two more active presentations for the Easter season. These are:

• March 25- Discerning God’s Call to Mission: Who are my Brothers and Sisters?
• April 22- Discerning God’s Call to Mission: It is Mercy I Desire
• May 27- Discerning God’s Call to Mission: Come Holy Spirit
We hope that these will help participants to imagine themselves in ministerial roles. Here is their link:http://www.svdvocations.org/.

Vocational recruitment involves all of us, and it is most effective when it draws upon the ministerial activities in our parishes. The statistics put out by the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC)in 2019 show that most vocations to religious life come through activities in parish life. The data below indicates how involvement in parish activities positively affects vocations:

• 50% Lector
• 47% Altar server
• 45% Eucharistic Minister
• 36%. Music ministry
• 33%. Young Adult Ministry

These are the primary sources of inspiration that draw candidates to religious life. But it also depends on the example of the priests and brothers, their preaching and ministerial outreach like visits to families, reaching out to the poor and through every aspect of their life. These are the things that ignite the vocational flames. This means that all of you, our SVD pastors and associates working out there in our parishes, are beacons of light attracting new members to our Society. What you say and do; how you live your life and ministry are the attractors or, unfortunately, detractors. You are much more than simply co-partners in promotion; you are the key, the cornerstone. You are the ones who nurture that first spark, that vague yearning to do something more. In our vocations office we direct and advise those who have already been touched by the Spirit through your life and ministry. We “promote” and guide them through our advice and direction. But that first spark is ignited by you.

When I look back on the times when I have been most effective in my vocations ministry it has always been through something I said at a meeting, a retreat or a counseling session, or through something that I did like a home-visit or joining in a sports event. It is these little things that have resulted in confreres, whom I can name, who are now working in the mission fields. There is a direct connection here and I encourage you to do the same. Talk to the youth about your own vocational discernment, your joy in your ministry, your excitement at being the Lord’s own emissary. Encourage them to follow it up so that they not let it dissipate. It might be the most important time in their lives.

– Emilio Reyes SVD

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