Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 23, 1998
MacNeil works to build deeper sense of vocation
By WCR Staff
In the eyes of Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, promoting vocations goes a lot deeper than recruiting potential priests.
"We need to deepen a greater sense of vocation among all our people," MacNeil told the WCR in an interview about the proposed restructuring of parishes.
As archbishop, he said he sees "enormous numbers of people" volunteering in parishes and on archdiocesan commissions and boards.
"When parents share that sense of vocations with their young people, it creates a context for greater vocations to religious life," he said.
MacNeil said he spends a large amount of his time in schools.
"I don't push vocations as much as I could," he said. "But I hope that in my visits to all these parishes and all these schools, people will sense that this is a calling which engenders a certain amount of happiness.
"I hope that might set the stage for young people thinking about their vocation."
Getting young people to ask, "What does God want of me?" will encourage religious vocations, he said.
MacNeil said the Faithful Into the Future report which recommends the closure of about 80 churches across the archdiocese because of an impending decline in the number of priests "is a cold dash of reality for us."
Edmonton has always been a missionary diocese, dependent for its priests on religious orders and dioceses in Eastern Canada, he said.
"Rather than being dependent on priests from outside, as a mature Church we have to take that responsibility ourselves."
MacNeil said he gets "energized" by his visits to schools. "I see great signs of hope," he said. "We have wonderful youth rallies. It's wonderful to behold."
The archdiocese also has a very active vocations team, he noted.
"But the Church really belongs to Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we'll do what we can to provide sufficient vocations and staff. But it's in the Lord's hands."