Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 22, 1999
Parishes urged to promote vocations
Redemptorist vocations director says diocese alone can't do the job
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Vocations promotion can't be done at the diocesan level alone, says the vocations coordinator of the Redemptorists.
"What we need is people at the local level to promote vocations," said Father Remi Hebert, announcing the Redemptorists may appoint a vocations coordinator in each of their parishes. "Vocations promotion belongs to each and every one of us."
Hebert led a vocations workshop March 12-13. Twenty-two people attended the workshop at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. They included youth ministers, parents, teachers and people willing to pursue religious vocations.
The archdiocesan Youth Commission and the Ukrainian Eparchy organized the event.
Having information available is the bottom line. "If you want to do anything about vocations in your parish you need a library," Hebert said.
He distributed a catalogue with literature and videos every parish should have on their shelves as well as a booklet and pamphlets with information on religious orders.
"There is no sense in reinventing the wheel," he said. "Most of the resources are here."
Unwillingness to commit is a main stumbling block for people considering a vocation, he said. "What we hear from young people today is that they want to leave all their doors, all their options, open."
Youth ministers should educate young people about their faith. "When we give them the tools it's much easier (for them to commit)," the Redemptorist said. "They can't commit to something or somebody they don't know."
Hebert said there is no freedom without commitment. "If we are not committed we are like a cork in the ocean floating around. Teach youth not to be afraid to make a commitment."
Those who are afraid to commit for fear of making the wrong choice should fear no more. "When we get close to God those fears will disappear," the Redemptorist said. "Our faith says we have to make bold choices."
Most participants liked the idea of having a parish vocations coordinator and some said they will pursue the idea.
Tim Hoven of Evergreen parish near Rocky Mountain House believes the lack of vocations is due to a lack of relationships.
In Evergreen, young people are an integral part of the congregation, they are listened to and their needs are met. As a result, several are now considering religious life, Hoven told the WCR. He suggested the archdiocese establish a formation house for young people interested in religious life.
The 28-year-old father of three believes vocations come from families and suggested parents talk about it with their children at the dinner table. "They should let their children know that being called to religious life is an honour."
Hoven also said parishes should support youth ministry because if they don't, "we will not only have a shortage of priests but also a shortage of people in the pews."
Good Shepherd and Annunciation parishes in Edmonton organize annual vocation workshops to introduce young people to religious life, noted Krista Ganton, youth minister for both parishes.
One year they had a panel of people talking about religious life. Another time a priest came and talked about vocations, she said.
"We simply give young people an opportunity to know their faith," Ganton said. "We plant the seeds with these programs."
Marie-Therese Spindler, youth liaison person at Sherwood Park's Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, said the best way to attract young people to religious life is to approach vocations in a simple manner.
"Young people don't see the priesthood as approachable," she said, suggesting that families should invite a priest for coffee or meals so children can see him as a real person.
Priests have to do their part, too, by showing they like what they do. "Young people have to see priests enjoying their vocation."
Hebert said it's easier to attract candidates for the priesthood when priests show they are happy with their vocations.
He joined the Redemptorists "because of the Redemptorists I met," not because of the order's charism. The priests he met were outgoing, caring and committed and that hooked him.