Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2003
Vocation retreat nourishes youth's spirit
Directors notice young people growing closer to God, the Church
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Sister Gertrude Sopracolle smiled as she said "I see something new happening, especially among young adults. I'm experiencing an increase in interest in religious life, as is reflected here."
"Here" is Wabamun and the occasion is the Camp Oselia youth annual vocation retreat Sept. 20. About 40 people attended the annual weekend event intent on discerning their vocations through inspiring talks, stories and prayer.
As formation director for Ursulines of Prelate congregation in St. Albert, Sopracolle said more people want to discover ways to be of service.
"Growing from the vocation formation conference last year in Montreal, there was a wonderful pastoral document out on discernment. The whole approach, if you are talking specifically about religious life in priesthood, is away from a recruitment model toward a model of involving young people in service.
"Very much as Father Paul (Moret) was saying, from the context of service, other people can help certain members within the larger group to help discover a call to priesthood, or to religious or consecrated life."
Sopracolle said that years ago, there was a true vocation culture. It was OK to live the consecrated life in the world. But there has been a span of 20 or 30 years where it was almost as though it was not an option. Societal factors worked against it.
"But I see in events such as World Youth Days, the promotion of a culture that is open to vocations.
"There is a healthier climate," she said.
Father Don Bodnar agreed, saying he believes the retreat was a good example of the current upswing of young adults toward serving God.
Both within their own congregation and globally, Bodnar and Sopracolle have witnessed a return of the desire to serve others.
"We are getting youth involved, slowly, through action," said Bodnar, vocation director of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy. "I find in our Church, a lot depends on the pastor. In some churches the attendance is really good and people are really involved."
Bodnar would like to see the number of people involved increase still further. But he realizes there are a number of interruptions people experience before they can commit to even a single moment of service.
"Part of the problem is that youth are involved in other things," he said. "Many of them have jobs and they work on a Sunday. We don't see them as often as we would like but they are taking part in the Church.
"As far as vocations, we've noticed in our particular Ukrainian church, the lectors - trained Eucharist ministers - that quite a number of them have shown an interest in doing more. Through that, the discernment process for us seems to be working out reasonably well."