With respect to vocation promotion, the week yielded far more that can be summarized in a brief article so let me just touch on two important themes that emerged:
Accompaniment and Youth Ministry. In every Conference, people highlighted the crucial need for personal accompaniment to help potential candidates better discern their vocations. Such accompaniment has become all the more critical because in many parts of the world men are coming to us from unchurched backgrounds and with little knowledge of the Society. In such a context, vocation promotion often becomes a time of formation, and there is an increasing need to imagine creative ways to integrate Vocation Promotion with youth ministry so that we can better share the Spiritual Exercises with the young and assist them to discern if God is calling them to religious life.
Governance and Rekindling a Culture of Vocation
Promotion. A second theme that emerged strongly in all the
Conferences was the need to cultivate a “culture of vocation promotion.” Such a
culture begins by missioning properly trained men to work full-time in vocation
promotion without rapid turnover. Across the globe, we have learned how
effective it can be to work in teams, strategically using social media, and
building up networks of support by collaborating with local superiors,
directors of works, lay partners, and religious sisters. A culture of vocation
promotion also invites each Jesuit to take personal responsibility for
attracting men through praying each day for vocations, welcoming men into our
communities, and giving witness to lives that inspire and attract the young.
Certainly, fostering such a culture goes far beyond the work of vocation
promoters alone. It depends on well-managed structural change driven by Major
Superiors, and we spent time imagining how Fr. General could help to animate
such change by working directly with Conferences using the video-conferencing
technology that has become so commonplace across these days of pandemic.
In the end, of course, all
vocations depend on God graciously calling a new generation to become
companions of Jesus. Recognizing our dependence on this grace, a key fruit of
the week was the desire to commit ourselves once again to daily prayer for
vocations, and that is something I hope each of you, readers, will feel invited
to as well.