Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2000
Casavant looks to long term
Vocations director seeks future priests, while archbishop recruiting abroad
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Father Sylvain Casavant continues to blaze the vocations trail.
A newsletter, personal invitations and school presentations are only a small sampling of how he's planning to boost the number of priests in the archdiocese.
The archdiocese's vocations director has spent the past few months visiting schools and parishes putting out the word. Not only the word for more seminarians and religious sisters, but also the word to get more volunteers on board.
"I sent out the information but it's up to you to pick up the ball," Casavant said during the Feb. 12 Archdiocesan Pastoral Council meeting.
Casavant is looking for volunteers who can make vocation presentations in the schools and parishes, collect news articles on vocations or set up a club to promote vocations.
Casavant plans to kick off a Called By Name program in May. With May 13-14 designated as World Day for Vocations, the program encourages parish priests to promote vocations in their congregations.
The plan is one of the ways to generate enthusiasm in the parish, Casavant said. It will include inserts in the parish bulletin asking people to pray for the program. Priests will give homilies on vocations and include their own testimonies.
But the heart of the program lies in asking parishioners and the pastor to reflect on and submit names of possible candidates for religious life. These candidates will then be contacted and invited to a vocations information evening.
But Casavant cautions parishioners from submitting names without thorough consideration.
"It's not good enough just to have a name, you have to discern the name."
The declining number of priests has made vocations a top priority in the archdiocese. It has also continued to cause concerns among parishioners and APC members who continue to promote other recruiting methods to attract priests to the archdiocese.
Archbishop Thomas Collins said during the APC meeting, although he supports recruiting priests from foreign countries, he said it could only be considered a short-term solution.
"Part of the long term plan is what Father Sylvain is doing now . . . with vocations," Collins said.
The archbishop does, however, have about 10 resumes from priests outside the archdiocese on his desk, which he is still going through.
He said the search for a priest is similar to hiring an employee in any field - it can be long and tedious because it involves matching a candidate's experience with the archdiocese's needs and doing reference checks.
Father Tesfu Kaleti arrived from Ethiopia three weeks ago and is living at St. Alphonsus Parish.
Collins said he has also set up a committee at St. Joseph's Seminary which will look at expanding the seminary.
"It's not to expand it physically, but for programs," Collins said.
The committee is looking at establishing a "priestology" program in September. The program would be geared towards students who have an undergraduate degree, but who are not yet ready to begin their theology studies.
Father Jean Papen, rector of the seminary, told the WCR the program would be ideal for those who do not yet have the course requirements or who may not have the faith background.
"It could be someone who converted and has faith, but they don't have a balanced view of it," Papen said.
September 1999 marked the beginning of the Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations initiative, one of the first major vocations promotion programs in the archdiocese. Casavant said 25 parishes have responded to the effort thus far.
Some parishes, Casavant said, are hesitant to commit to the program, fearing it will take away from their regular intentions for Eucharistic Adoration.
"They think (Eucharistic Adoration) will only be for vocations then, but that's not the case. We're saying that vocations can be one of the things you can pray for. It doesn't have to be the only thing."
For the future, Casavant is looking at publishing a vocations newsletter, a communication tool for future seminarians, parents or any interested parties.
Oftentimes, said Casavant, parents of children who have shown an interest in religious life are left unsure of their next step. Casavant hopes some programs will help them to encourage and promote vocations in their own homes.
Casavant is also encouraging the re-establishment of a Serra Club in the archdiocese. The organization was formed in 1936 in California by a group of people who saw a need to foster vocations.