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DEVELOPMENTS IN VOCATIONAL PASTORAL MINISTRY

The Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

DEVELOPMENTS IN VOCATIONAL PASTORAL MINISTRY

In the Particular Churches

 

Preface

 

The Second International Congress for Ecclesiastical Vocations, prepared in four years of careful and concrete research and consultations in all the regions of the world, in May of 1981 met at

Rome with the experts, the delegates of the episcopal conferences, as indeed the superiors general of men and women religious, to study all together-in the light of a very vast inquiry and of diversified experiences gathered in the "Diocesan Vocational Plans"-the grave problem of vocations. At the end there was drawn up the "Conclusive Document," as the final result of the Congress.

After the experience of ten years from the application of that document, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and for the

Societies of Apostolic Life carried out a new consultation in order to verify the progress brought about up to today in the field of pastoral vocational ministry.

The concern of the two congregations is due to the awareness that the problem of ecclesiastical vocations, the reason of so many hopes and of much fear, is strictly joined with the very life of the Church and with the cause of the evangelization of the world.

The Church, sustained by the promise of the "Lord of the harvest"- as is remembered annually by the Holy Father in his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations-does not mean at all to fold up in a resigned inaction, but on the contrary energetically repels every yielding attitude. Guided by the force of the Spirit, in the light of the realities of today and by the experience gathered in these recent years, she studies and indicates efficacious ways, even different from the old ones, for the germinating and the flowering of new and holy vocations.

Starting, therefore, with the "Conclusive Document," and keeping in mind what was said by the bishops and religious in the consultation, one can deduce useful elements for a new program line to be followed and for an adequate vocational animation to be developed, for the purpose of assuring for the Church a unitary pastoral ministry capable of involving all her components in the service of vocations.

The work of synthesis that is offered constitutes a precious handbook of evaluation of the responses given from the individual particular Churches to the international consultation on the

"development of the pastoral ministry of vocations."

 

Introduction:

Topic and Intentions

1. The Consultation Promoted by the Apostolic See

 

The present documentation has as subject: "the developments of the pastoral ministry of vocations in the particular Churches" and there is intended a synthesis of the replies and of the reports that

came to the Apostolic See from numerous nations following a two- fold consultation:

1) that promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education (Prot. No. 520/88 of May 3, 1988) among the national episcopal conferences;

2) the other carried out by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life (Prot. N. SpR 611/85 of January 25, 1990) among the national conferences of

major superiors of men and women religious.

 

2. The Fundamental Problem of the Church

 

The vast consultation carried out by the Apostolic See wished above all to respond to the constant invitation the Holy Father John Paul II has made to all the faithful that all should collaborate with

prayer and action for the increase of vocations to the ordained ministries and to the various forms of special consecration. The august Pontiff has many times indicated the vocational fact as "the fundamental problem of the Church," and therefore as the fundamental problem of every particular Church, of every Christian community, of every religious family. It is a topic, therefore, of living

interest and of pressing reality.

 

3. The 1981 International Congress

 

It is well known that to carry out the directives of Vatican Council II, the Apostolic See promoted numerous initiatives at the international, national and diocesan levels in order to help the particular Churches to accept, discern and evaluate vocations. We remember in particular the celebration of the Second International Congress of Bishops and of Others Responsible for Vocations, carried out in the Vatican May 10-16, 1981, and achieved in collaboration among the Congregations for Catholic Education, for Religious and for Secular Institutes, for the Oriental Churches and for the Evangelization of the Peoples, on the topic: "Developments of the Pastoral Care of Vocations in the Particular Church's; Experiences of the Pact and Programs for the Future."(1)

 

4. The Conclusive Document of the Congress

 

Ten years after the Second International Congress the consultation had the purpose both of evaluating the fruits and the positive developments that had matured in each country from the application of the Conclusive Document of the same Congress, as well as to know the opinion of the episcopal conferences and of the conferences of major superiors of men and women religious

regarding the more valid experiences to be promoted in view of a further impulse to be given to the pastoral ministry of vocations.

 

5. Validity and Actuality of the Document

The Conclusive Document was sent to all bishops, to superiors general and to the national conferences of major superiors of men and women religious. After ten years that Document still preserves full validity and remains a sure and authoritative guide, on the doctrinal plane as well as on the pastoral plane. The offices of the Apostolic See, more directly interested, are committed that the Document be known and applied in every sector of the Church, according to the lively wish expressed by the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II: "The directions and the proposals contained in the

Conclusive Document are to be made the object of attentive reflection and of wise application, so that there derive from them, for the entire Church, an effective increase and a greater efficacy in the

pastoral ministry of vocations" (Letter of the Secretary of State, No. 84.906, March 29, 1982).

 

6. Limits of the Consultation

 

The present dossier considers only some aspects of the pastoral action for vocations. Therefore it does not treat all the complex matter related to the problems of vocations under the theological,

sociological and psychological aspects; nor does it quote the directives and the orientations of the Conclusive Document taken as a whole, even if it is taken as a point of reference for the entire

analysis contained there. Within these limits neither are the questions faced, relating to the formation of the candidates in the seminaries, novitiates and similar institutions.

 

7. The Post-Congress

 

After the Conclusive Document was sent out, the Church experienced an intense work of reflection, meditation and prayer, together with conferences, discussions, conventions and cultural

encounters. There was noticed also an array of publications, magazines, scientific studies on vocation and on the pastoral aspects connected with it. The episcopal magisterium in every part of

the world contributed notably to the maturation of a new consciousness, even if the journey of the communities is still exacting and arduous.

 

8. Authoritative Interventions

 

In the last ten years there have also been authoritative interventions of particular relief, some of which have direct connection with the pastoral ministry of vocations, others, though they do not expressly regard the subject, refer nevertheless to it under one or the other aspect. Besides the pontifical messages for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we wish to remember especially the following documents of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II: the promulgation of the Codex Iuris Canonici (January 25, 1983); the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptionis Donum (March 25, 1984); Letter to the Youth in the international year of the youth (March 31,1985); the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (December 30, 1988); the Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio concerning the permanent validity of the missionary mandate (December 7, 1990). Let us recall

also the Instruction of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life: Directives on Formation in the Religious Institutes; the VIII Ordinary General

Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held in the Vatican September 30-October 28, 1990; the Congress of Vienna promoted by the UCESM (Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors of Men and Women Religious), October 8-12, 1989, on the topic: "Contents and Methods of the Pastoral Vocational Ministry of the Religious in Europe."

 

9. The Replies of the Conferences

 

The reports that came to the Apostolic See on the part of the various conferences can be considered in a good percentage representative of the universality of the Church and of the diversity of the environments and of expectations.(2) The orderly synthesis of all these contributions can be considered reliable and representative, therefore useful for the reflections and the pastoral instances on every ecclesial level. After a first reading of the reports there was made the selection of the topics, their matching and finally an effort was made to produce a unitary and homogeneous text.

To facilitate the reading of the results of the inquiry there was followed, as far as possible, the order and the organic arrangement of the same Conclusive Document.

 

10. Differentiated Situations and Common Elements

 

It seems opportune to underline explicitly the differences existing in the various nations, not only for their ecclesial situation, but also for the sociological aspects. These differences characterize very much the lived experiences, the means used, the structures put into operation in the pastoral ministry of vocations, and at times the recognition of the common elements seems almost impossible. Ordinarily to enumerate in detail the particular contributions of the individual Christian communities has not been done, to avoid not distinguishing sufficiently the essential from the accidental, and that there would result an incoherent and hardly readable text. When the need was seen, there was sought to render account also of some particular observations reported by one or the other conference; only, however, when the same data have had verification and echoes also in other countries.

 

11. Structure of the Text

 

The present dossier is articulated in six chapters plus a conclusion. The first chapter lingers on the general aspects and on some reports of situations concerning the acceptance of the Conclusive

Document, on the quantitative and qualitative elements of vocations in the last ten years, on the credibility and the witness of the consecrated ones. The second chapter faces the doctrinal aspects

in the particular Churches and in the various persons responsible. The third chapter examines the priority choices on which the pastoral ministry of vocations is founded. The fourth chapter recalls the responsibilities of bishops, of pastors and priests, of consecrated persons, of parochial communities, and of other ecclesial realities. The fifth chapter is the central part of the present dossier, and is dedicated to the pastoral youth ministry in relation to the pastoral vocational ministry; it faces the various problems of the youth and the more significant experiences reported by the various conferences. The sixth and last chapter briefly examines the organizational aspects: the unitary centers, the preparation and the updating of the Plans for Vocations, the collaboration between the diocesan clergy and religious clergy, the use of the mass media. A brief conclusion

offers some prospects and some signs of hope for the future.

 

Chapter I

General Aspects and Remarks of Situation

A. Acceptance and Application of the Conclusive Document

12. The Incidence of the Conclusive Document

 

Above all it is right and proper to ask oneself what incidence the Conclusive Document of the Congress has had and is having in the particular Churches. In other words, one wants to know if what was indicated ten years ago as a valid contribution for the pastoral needs concerning vocations has been sufficiently known, accepted and faithfully carried out. From the reports that have arrived, the following situations can be noted:

1) There are countries in which the document has had a broad diffusion and a most favorable acceptance, at least on the level of those responsible for vocational work.(3)

2) In other countries the document has been diffused, but has not been sufficiently assimilated and carried out.(4)

3) There are also countries in which a scant knowledge is reported, or even ignorance of the document.(5)

4) Some conferences declared they had never even seen or received it.(6)

 

13. Connection with the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

 

To make the Conclusive Document known and applied there have not lacked initiatives useful for the purpose, such as congresses, symposiums, sessions of study, cultural encounters, seminars,

studies and research.(7)

Beyond the results obtained, the replies received express almost always excellent appreciation concerning the contents and the directives of the Conclusive Document. It has been the base of

numerous Plans of Pastoral Vocational Ministries drawn up or re- elaborated by particular Churches or by religious families.

The document clearly defines the nature of the pastoral vocational ministry, resolving some doubts that had been spread in the years after Vatican II, in particular on three points: on the mutual relation between pastoral youth ministry and pastoral vocational ministry; on the unitary and the specificity of this pastoral ministry (collaboration among diocesan priests, religious men and religious women, etc.); on the necessity of live institutions that promote and coordinate the

different initiatives of the particular Church.(8)

 

B. A Look at the General Situation of Vocations

14. Global Evaluation

 

The world situation of vocations for the ordained ministries and for the other forms of consecrated life(9) can be considered both under the simply numerico-quantitative aspect and under the qualitative aspect. The evaluations, as is evident, can be diverse according to if the one or the other aspect is considered.

Numerous conferences have been thoughtful in reporting the statistical evolution in their countries during the last ten years. For obvious reasons, it has been thought more opportune to give certain

total information rather than report in detail the numerical course of the vocations on which the recent Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae can be consulted. It will not be superfluous to remember that, especially in this field, to be avoided are generalizations that can betray non-quantifiable realities, such as vocations, connected by their nature to the initiative of God.

For a global evaluation, there remains still actual the report made some time ago by the Supreme Pontiff: "There are numerous countries in which the vocational recovery is truly consistent. In

others there is noted a promising revival. Fortunately few are those in which they are hardly getting a start; but also in these there are signs that allow us to have good hope for the future."(10)

 

15. Priestly Vocations

 

While in the last ten years there has been verified a generalized drop of students for the diocesan and religious seminaries, there has been registered, on the contrary, a constant increase of major

seminarians (philosophy and theology), both diocesan and religious, as indeed an increase of ordinations to the priesthood. There is verified, therefore, in relative terms, an inversion of tendency with respect to the immediate post-Council. In some dioceses there have been re-opened the major seminaries which were closed for a time.(11)

The increase of priestly vocations, nevertheless, becomes reappraised if one considers that in diverse countries the new ordinations do not succeed in filling the vacuums caused by those

who have died and those who have abandoned the priesthood. This is the reason for which the number of priests continues to diminish, and the disproportion existing between clergy and people is not attenuated.

 

16. The Vocations in the Institutes of Consecrated Life and in Societies of Apostolic Life

 

There are positive signs also on the part of religious vocations. In the same past ten years there has been observed a good increase of the number of novices, both male and female. Nevertheless even here the increase of the new vocations has not been to the degree of compensating for the decreases verified for diverse reasons. The greater decrease regards religious brothers and above all religious women.

 

17. No Geography of Vocations

 

The reports of the conferences give evidence that the vocational growth is valid but not sufficient.

The most consistent vocational recovery is being verified in various countries of Africa, of Asia and of Latin America. Some countries of Europe, of North America and of Australia are in a decreasing phase. The phenomenon, in its totality, is upsetting the geography of vocations: from the northern hemisphere numerous shiftings are taking place towards the southern hemisphere, especially to countries of new evangelization.(12)

 

18. Tendencies

 

Also in the countries in which the numerical drop of vocations is still evident, the reports show a more favorable climate and improved tendencies in respect to the preceding period.(13) Nevertheless, conferences are not lacking that declare that up until this moment there are no convincing signs of vocational recovery in their communities.(14)

 

19. Some Lacks of Balance

 

It can be useful to note that some conferences report a lack of balance concerning the type of vocations. There are those who note an increase in masculine vocations, principally diocesan, and not of feminine vocations;(15) others speak of an increase of religious

priestly vocations and not of diocesan vocations.(16)

 

C. Qualitative Aspects

20. The Contribution of the Magisterium

 

For the purpose of obtaining a more exact idea of the situation, the positive signs of a qualitative character are not less important than statistical ones. It is not always easy to prove them. To exemplify, we report those more frequently recurring in the reports of the conferences.

Above all we must underline the fact that in the universal Church there has been elaborated a vast post-conciliar Magisterium, which has contributed notably to delving deeply into the doctrine and the pastoral ministry of vocations. Think of the pontifical Magisterium of these years, of the episcopal interventions on every level, of the national and diocesan plans, of the international and national congresses.

 

21. Increase of Interest in the Christian Communities

 

Almost all the conferences ascertain with satisfaction that the interest of the pastoral vocational ministry has been in continuous increase in the Christian communities, even if it has not reached the

optimal level. There is noted a greater commitment in the dioceses and in the religious families in placing priests, religious and sisters available for the promotion and the formation of consecrated

vocations. There is noted, too, the effort to render effectively "vocational" all the pastoral ministries. Indeed, there is reported a greater seriousness in the vocational "accompaniment" before

admitting the candidates to a formative institution.(17)

 

22. The Courage of the Proposal

 

The vocational proposal to the youth has become always more courageous, while the pastoral ministry of vocations is progressively being integrated into the ordinary pastoral ministry.(18) Spiritual direction is in recovery in many places as a means of vocational proposal and discernment. The new catechisms of some countries do not fail to keep present the vocational thematic material.

 

23. Opening to the Universal Church

 

Particularly in developing countries the youth show themselves sufficiently receptive to the values of consecrated life. The increase of vocations is due very often to the great attention to the needs of

the Church.(19) In general there is noted a true opening to the interests of the universal Church and to the mission ad gentes; nevertheless in a few countries there is recorded poor readiness,

due to "the local urgent pastoral problems."(20)

 

24. The Renewal of Religious Life

 

The renewal of religious life that, after the Council, has brought about the revision of Constitutions and of other norms, is still intent on obtaining in the members a radical and extensive evangelical conversion.

In this perspective the pastoral vocational ministry is helping the religious institutes and the societies of apostolic life, not only to increase the number of vocations, concerned to fill in the vacuums, but is obliging them also to make emerge with force the gifts which the Holy Spirit has sown in them.

In fact, only these gifts can give voice to the divine calls in the soul of the youth.(21)

 

25. Adult Vocations

 

The so-called "adult" vocations are being manifested with an ever-increasing rhythm. These persons come, above all, from ecclesialgroups and movements. For those responsible for formation thereemerges the difficulty of the suitable and efficacious manner for the discernment and for the "accompaniment" that takes account of the human, professional and spiritual experience of these persons.(22)

Many candidates for the ordained ministries and for the consecrated life present themselves with other studies already done, or with a profession or a post of work in society. Ordinarily they do

the first years of formation in centers specially prepared for adult vocations.(23)

 

D. A Question of Credibility

26. Mentioning of Some Negative Attitudes

 

Numerous conferences emphasize some conditions that do not favor an efficacious pastoral ministry of vocations. In several persons and in numerous communities there still remain attitudes of tiredness, indifference, delegation, discouragement and pessimism. Fortunately, these are not the attitudes most diffused.

 

 

27. Counter-witness

 

The counter-witnesses, the desertions and the crises of identity of priests and consecrated persons, even if they are decreasing, still create uncertainties in the conscience of many youths about the

sense of the vocation of special consecration.

Also in our days, where there are persons and credible communities that pray and work with zeal, excellent results are obtained at every level. It is not perchance that in many places there is reported the preference of the youth for the austere life of contemplative in monasteries and convents of the cloister.(24)

 

28. Certain Inconsistencies Between Faith and Life

 

It is well known that the youth are seeking convincing models of life and lasting values. They complain that little impulse is brought about by the vocation recruiters. The growing interest that the youth have for the spiritual, and the contemporary lack of interest for institutions, can be explained in part by the image of the priestly life and of the consecrated life projected by persons and communities. This fact strongly interpellates the Christian communities: what image of lived

vocations is being offered and received? That is what is being underlined with different accentuations by numerous conferences.(25) In some countries, while a diminution of vocations to the consecrated life is reported, there is noticed at the same time an increasing readiness for the ecclesial lay ministries.(26)

 

29. Confidence in the Young

 

Notwithstanding the lacks and the non-fulfillments just mentioned, it is thought necessary that above all the educators should express great trust in the spiritual and vocational possibilities of the youth of today. "The response of the youth will be more generous if they feel they are responsible members of the Church, even privileged members, and if the Church will call them to commit themselves more in the construction of a civilization of love."(27)

 

Chapter II

Urgencies of a Doctrinal Character

A. An Insistent Call for the Particular Churches

30. Correct Planning

 

All the conferences-both episcopal and of the major superiors of men and women religious-are in agreement concerning need of overcoming the existing lacks on the doctrinal plane, and underline

the orientation of the Conclusive Document that, in the entire first part, places in evidence certain doctrinal subjects "that they be examined thoroughly and spread in the particular Churches."

A correct plan of the proposal should be founded necessarily on a solid theology of vocation and of vocations, in harmony with the ecclesiology of Vatican II. "To understand and appreciate the

Christian vocation and the vocations to the consecrated life, it is necessary to consider these vocations in the light of the mystery of the Church."(28)

 

31. The Mystery of the Church

 

Frequently the difficulties regarding vocations are connected with an insufficient knowledge of the Church. As a consequence almost never is the Church present as "Body of Christ," "People of God," "communion" in the life of numerous Christians, in the explicit experience of faith and in religious parlance. That is placed in the frame of an individualistic Western culture that speaks more willingly of the realization of the person than of the vocation of the Church.(29)

It is affirmed in intention that it is necessary to increase the effort for a benefiting biblical and theological foundation of vocations, for avoiding the danger of a purely functional of the vision of the pastoral ministry of vocations.

 

 

32. Vocation of the Laity

 

In some particular Churches, the animators and the others responsible for vocations have given evidence of greater opening to the vocations of the laity in respect to the preceding years. They

have tried to promote these vocations, placing them alongside the presbyterate and religious consecration, insisting that the vocational announcement, thus enlarged, be contemporaneously addressed to everyone on all occasions.

Others, on the contrary, hold that the rediscovery of the vocation of the layperson and the exaggerated emphasis of it in the Church has become one of the factors that have influenced, in fact, the decline of the priestly and religious vocations.

It is difficult to give an evaluation of similar opinions. Nevertheless it is important to sustain the special nature and the necessity of the ordained ministry and of the consecrated life, without however prejudicing the vocation of the laity.(30)

 

33. To Each His Gift

 

The lack of vocations of special consecration stimulates all to work with more decision in the promotion of these vocations. On the other hand, nevertheless, it is necessary to restore their proper functions to the ministers, to the religious, to the laity, without invading the fields of the distinct missions corresponding to each vocation, with each one assuming his proper responsibilities. Thus if the priests are carrying out tasks that can be carried out by the laity, a correct pastoral plan will seek o distribute better the services that each one is called to carry out in the Christian community.(31)

 

34. Requested Thorough Examinations

 

The major part of the conferences that participated in the consultation appreciated much the calls of the Conclusive Document to the trinitarian aspect and to the link existing between

vocation, prayer and conversion. At the same time they recognize that the elaboration of the theological doctrine on vocation and on vocations requires greater thorough examinations.

Very opportunely have efforts been carried out to clarify the vocation of the laity in the Church. Now it seems important to develop moreover the theology of the priesthood and of the

consecrated life in the mystery and in the life of the Church, so as to avoid possible confusion.(32)

 

35. Lack of Specialists

 

Reported is the lack of specialists capable of treating with theological competence the vocational subjects. Actually they are the so-called "pastoralists," those that usually face such subjects,

whether in the preparation of vocation personnel, or in the encounters of the men and women animators. All of this is carried out almost always at the margin of the ordinary "curriculum" of the

theological faculties.(33)

 

36. Making Use of the Topics of the Document

 

The subjects called for by the Conclusive Document find their place in preaching, in publications and in assemblies of study, and constitute the principles for establishing the strategy of the pastoral

ministry of vocations.(34)

For the purpose of illustration, the following outline of subjects and of convictions of a doctrinal character, in the light of the Conclusive Document, can be useful:

1) God is the source of the vocation: "To understand vocation and vocations..., there is need of going back to the mystery of God. Every vocation concerns the design of the Father for the mission of his Son, for the work of the Holy Spirit."(35) God calls all men to be his disciples and witnesses. The Church is the prime subject of the vocation: "The entire Church is in a state of vocation and of mission. God calls some to a vocation of special consecration."(36)

2) The grace of the call is part of their human condition: the family, the daily life (school, profession, affective life), the history of every baptized person in the Church made of calls and successive responses, cultural factors in which the youth live.

3) The Church is the instrument of the calls of God. The pastoral ministry of vocations is characterized by a strong ecclesiality. The Church, in the state of vocation, in its turn calls. The vocation is grace, but it passes through the mediation of the particular Church.(37) The vocations are destined for the Church.(38)

 

B. The Preparation of Vocational Personnel

37. The Theological Level

 

Generally, the theological level of priests, of men and women religious, and of others responsible for vocations, chosen for this task by the bishops or by their own superiors, is judged insufficient.

That means that the pastoral ministry of vocations, more than on a theological foundation, has, in the majority of cases, a pedagogical root, for which this pastoral ministry is often reduced to some

activities programmed with good interest, but also with much improvisation.(39)

 

38. Unavoidable Urgency of a Specific Preparation

 

The lack of preparation of the animators and of those responsible for formation is one of the problems that require an unavoidable solution.(40)

"Those responsible for vocations should be experts in speaking to the youth of today. They should possess the gift of efficacy in presenting the Christian life as a vocation, and in showing the sense

and the value of the various consecrated vocations."(41) Above all is it urgent to see after the specific preparation of the spiritual directors and of the others responsible for the "accompaniment."(42) Many vocations do not reach maturity because they did not find suitable

animators and those responsible for formation to help them.

 

39. A Serious Obligation for the Schools of Theology

 

Almost all the conferences report that the space given to this subject in the schools of theology is totally insufficient, not only for what concerns the general doctrine of the Christian vocation, but

also for what concerns specific vocations. These are lacks that, sooner or later, have their negative reflection in the future priestly ministry. There is lacking a systematic study.(43)

 

C. Particular Considerations About the Consecrated Life

40. A Vocation Ignored

 

One of the most recurring complaints, particularly in the reports of the conferences of major superiors of men and women religious, is the poor knowledge of the religious life.(44) The Conclusive Document underlines the following instance: "The religious life, in its essence and in the variety of its forms, should be understood and prized always more by the pastors and the believing communities. Better understood and sustained also should be the mission of the religious brothers and sisters, who today face new and grave problems."(45)

 

41. A Difficult Matter

 

The acquisitions concerning a greater commitment in the promotion of consecrated vocations have difficulty in passing into practice, especially of the parochial catechesis. The catechists

themselves, especially young ones, show a great ignorance of the consecrated life, the reason why few know how to make a presentation of the consecrated life to those being catechized.(46)

 

42. The Secular Institutes

 

In spite of the great effort made to promote secular consecration, there is reported a poor influence on the youth. It would be interesting to analyze the reasons, also because this vocation has a

lifestyle consonant with the demands of the times, with a direct experience in the service of the contemporary world.(47)

 

43. Necessity of Clarifying the Charism of the Institute

 

If the consecrated life seems ignored by the youth, it cannot but be a sign of little clarity in the identity of the institute. The actual difficulties can be read also as an invitation to pursue that return to the charismatic origins called for by the Council.

It is a topic that returns often in the replies to the questionnaire. Young people feel drawn when they meet religious who live in the joy of the following of Christ, sincerely united among themselves, faithful to the charism of the founder and truly consecrated to the mission of

the Church.(48)

 

Chapter III

The Choice of the Pastoral Ministry of Vocations

A. Organic Insertion in the Ordinary Pastoral Ministry

44. A Dimension for the Entire Pastoral Ministry

 

There is reported progress in considering the pastoral vocational ministry in intimate connection with the entire salvific action of the Church. There remain, however, persons who consider the pastoral ministry of vocations as a sectoral pastoral ministry, and not as a dimension of the entire pastoral ministry activity. Much remains to be done in this sector, to achieve that all the general pastoral ministry be open to vocations, and that all the activity of pastoral vocational ministry be integrated fully in the global plan of the diocese.(49)

 

45. Unified Pastoral Ministry

 

According to some episcopal conferences, there still survives a certain concern about the pastoral vocational ministry becoming organically a part of the unified pastoral ministry, principally in

catechesis, in the youth activities, and in the pastoral ministry of the family. At times this insertion is verified more at the level of coordination, since there basically exists a lack of achieving a true

integration. It is reported that often the pastoral vocational ministry forms part of each of the pastoral ministries, rather than of a unified pastoral ministry.(50)

 

46. Missionary Vocations

 

Insertion into the ordinary pastoral ministry of a particular Church should not make one forget the needs of the universal Church. The shortage of evangelizers, which characterizes many Churches today, should not hinder in any way the missionary impulse, but should be, instead, another reason for expanding the spaces of charity. It is a consequence of the missionary nature of the Church and of the pastoral obligation of every community.

Even if a particular Church were sufficiently furnished with personnel for the pastoral ministry, the need of missionary vocations would not be exhausted, but it would be necessary for priests,

religious men and religious women, and the laity to leave their community to annual the Gospel to the non-Christians. Their presence in the missions ad gentes is a sign of vitality and provokes

renewal. Their absence would be, instead, a preoccupying sign of sterility and of ecclesial sclerosis. There should not be forgotten the needs of the new evangelization of the countries, a species of

"ancient Christianity" that have lost the living sense of the faith.(51)

 

B. Incessant Prayer and Vocations

47. An Essential Place

 

Prayer is the most common and consistent characteristic of the apostolate of vocations. It is assuming progressively the essential place that is its due. Vocational prayer, besides impetration, is also a stimulus that the youth and the less young ask themselves to discover their own vocation and take upon themselves the salvific needs of the Church.

In that perspective the particular Churches are committing he Christian communities to vocational prayer in all its possible forms, valuing also the prayer of the sick and of the elderly.(52)

 

48. The World Day and a New Consciousness

 

A growing care is reported, year by year, in the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, so that it not be reduced to the celebration of "one" day, and an end in itself, but constitutes always more, as is its purpose, a time of refection and of fervent prayer; therefore, of moment-summit of all the service of vocational evangelization of a particular Church.(53)

The annual celebration of the World Day, accompanied by the pontifical message, is contributing not a little toward developing a new vocational consciousness in Christian communities.

Nevertheless, in some regions the response of the individual parochial communities is minimal or inadequate for the proposed purposes.(54)

If the World Day has constantly increased its activities, it has, however, preserved the spirit which animates it; that is, prayer. Much programming, also in other periods of the year, revolve around prayer.

 

49. Marian Dimension of the Pastoral Vocational Ministry

 

The Conclusive Document indicates the most holy Mary as "mediatrix of vocations," "model of every call," "mother of all vocations." The presence, the intercession, and the exemplarity of

the Virgin are fundamental realities for every vocation. The prayer and every activity of pastoral vocational ministry should constantly keep present the Marian dimension that characterizes them. The youth will meet in Mary an interior source of generosity and strength to respond to the call of God.(55)

 

50. Vocational Cenacles

 

The groups of prayer and the vocational cenacles where they exist, are important means for entreating the Master of the harvest to send workers to his harvest, and for sustaining, with their prayers, all those who offer active service. At the same time they especially help the youth to mature a vocational choice according to the plan of God for each one of them.(56)

 

51. The Liturgy

 

For what regards the liturgy, there is progressing, even if gradually, the attention that the liturgical year become a permanent school for the vocational journey, and above all that the sacraments of Christian initiation be understood always more also as sacraments of the initiation toward the life consecrated to God and to the Church.(57)

 

C. The Role of Catechesis in the Pastoral Vocational Ministry

52. The New Catechisms

The catechisms prepared for the various ages ordinarily over various possibilities for presenting the Christian vocation and the vocations of special consecration. The same should be said for the

texts of the school of religion in the countries where it is admitted. Apart from this utilization, all the catechisms, from that for little children to that for adults, should be explicitly permeated with the vocational dimension, and depict a true and proper vocational journey.

 

53. Preparation of the Catechists

 

The catechists and the teachers of religion almost never have a specific preparation on the pedagogy of the proposal and of the "accompaniment" capable of giving rise to and promoting vocations. It is observed that the theology of vocation usually is absent from the diocesan schools of catechesis. There is seen, therefore, the need of increasing in the catechesis a suitable preparation on the diverse consecrated vocations, not only in a general and theoretical form, but even in a personal and individualized form that helps the youth to discern the divine signs of the call.

It will not be out of place to recall that the catechists have direct and prolonged contacts with children, adolescents and youth, particularly in a moment so important as is the preparation for

Confirmation.(58)

 

54. Priority Program

 

In some dioceses there are reported priority programs for the

formation of the catechists. Through such programs the catechists

are prepared for the purpose of making them vocational animators.

Insofar as this formation contains the characteristics and the

situations of teach diocese they are convinced that a planning on a

more ecclesial level would be suitable for the laity committed to

catechesis.(59)

55. The Vocation of the Catechist

 

Important is the following note: the particular Churches should put special care in preparing and sustaining the various educators for the faith who work above all in the service of the young generations. The catechists should have a consciousness that their service is a call so that the entire catechesis be truly vocational.(60)

 

Chapter IV

Responsibility of Persons and Communities

A. The Ministry of the Call on the Part of the Bishops

56. Multiple Expressions of the Episcopal Service

 

To announce the value and the necessity of vocations to the ordained ministry and to the various forms of consecrated life, the bishops can utilize-and de facto many already utilize-every occasion

of their ministry: ordinations, conferral of the various ministries, professions, celebrations of Confirmation in the parishes, prayer encounters especially with the youth, monthly encounters of

spirituality with the clergy, pastoral letters, circular letters, visits, invitations to prayer, assemblies and councils, preaching. All are convinced that the solution of the problem of vocations depends in

great part on the way with which the bishops exercise their mission and the episcopal ministry.

 

57. Attention to All Vocations

 

Vatican II insisted with force on the responsibility of the bishop for all vocations(61) It is observed from various parts that not rarely the attention of the bishops is turned largely to diocesan vocations, less to religious vocations. The document, Mutuae Relationes, recalls that to the bishops is even entrusted "the office of taking care of the religious charisms.... By promoting religious life and protecting it in conformity with its definite characteristics, the bishops fulfill a genuine pastoral duty."(62)

 

B. The Commitment of Priests and of Christian Communities

58. Crisis of "Those Calling"

 

It is reported that some priests and religious are apathetic and often discourage vocations for the lack of trust in the future, for the little value that they attribute to the priestly ministry and to seminarian formation.

Frequently, together with the so-called crisis of vocations, it has been accompanied, and is accompanied, by the crisis of the "callers." Many priests, religious men and religious women are not

concerned about doing the vocational apostolate, but leave this work only to the ones in charge. At the same time one cannot deny that there is maturing a more-attentive consciousness to this service.

Several priests would wish even to work better in the pastoral vocational ministry, but do not feel themselves prepared and do not have the courage to "accompany" the vocations that, without doubt,

would arise in greater number if they would undertake a Christian spiritual journey.(63)

 

59. Parishes, the Ordinary Places of Orientation

 

While the conviction is expressed on the great role of the parochial communities as ordinary places of vocational orientation, it is ascertained as one of the major difficulties typical of the parishes that do not promote the necessary vocational service. The one then who works in this field must keep in mind the integral process that leads to discover the general Christian vocation and in the limits of this, the specific vocation.(64)

That the vocational service be naturally present in the ordinary pastoral ministry of a parochial community; it is still felt by various pastors rather as something; more to be done, than the very soul of the entire evangelization that the parish expresses.(65)

 

60. The Problem of Everyone

 

As long as the diocesan and parochial communities, the families, the associations do not feel the vocational problem as their own, a satisfying solution will be difficult. In the majority of the parishes the pastoral vocational ministry is relegated to the important moments offered by the universal and national Church. The seminary-parish relationship leaves much to be desired.(66)

 

61. The Obligation of the Laity

 

Few are the dioceses and the parishes in which the laity are seriously committed in the pastoral ministry of vocations, nor do they take part directly in this task so vital for the Church. That is verified not so much for their bad will, as for lack of preparation. There are laity who do not succeed in evaluating adequately the decline in the number of priests, religious men and sisters.(67) With this observation one does not want to deny the commitment of numerous lay aggregations and associations that have risen with the precise task of praying and working for consecrated vocations.

 

62. A Desired Presence

 

Complaints have been expressed on the poor presence of consecrated ones in many ecclesial movements and in many parishes. The necessary pastoral services for the discernment and

the "accompaniment" required for consecrated vocations are not offered.(68) Also giving rise to a certain surprise is the fact that, in the parishes directed pastorally by religious, rarely are there

vocations oriented toward the institute of which the pastor and the collaborating priests form part.

63. The Ecclesial Base Communities

 

The formation of the ecclesial base communities is a ferment for the pastoral vocational ministry. The majority of the initiatives are carried out within the communities, such as encounters,

celebrations, catechesis, the reading of the Scriptures, vocational announcement. These are a sign of vitality of the Church, instrument of formation and of evangelization.(69)

 

C. Animation Within the Religious Families and in the Societies of Apostolic Life

64. Widespread Prejudices

 

Even in religious communities, especially of some countries, there have not been completely overcome negative attitudes regarding the service of vocations. It is a matter of arousing interest and making the acquiring of a new mentality for persons, communities and works of the apostolate (schools, colleges, associations, etc.).

A concern of an emotive type does not help; there is need, instead, of the commitment of everyone at the operative level. Though admitting the progress verified in these last years, it is

thought that the crisis of vocations depends in great part also on the very consecrated ones, on their indifference and passivity. For these reasons, within the religious families there is an aiming at co-

responsibility and at the participation of all the members in the promotion of vocations with a constant animation, that is, not reduced to sporadic or occasional initiatives.(70)

 

65. Services of Animation

 

 

The ways and the modalities for attaining the involvement of all the communities vary from one religious family to another. Much depends on the inventiveness of those responsible: formative

meetings; chapters; conventions; organs of the press; courses of ongoing formation, etc. Often there is established a team of religious with the office of sensitizing the province, a region, or a certain

number of communities. In some institutes that task has been assumed in the first person of the very superiors and major superiors.

The promotion of vocations to the consecrated life has known in these years much experience and many journeys, but all have had in common certain means or fundamental moments. Keeping in mind that the pastoral vocational ministry depends much on the animation of the religious life in general, on its witness and prophetic presence amid the world, some conferences, besides specific animation, have insisted particularly on the formation of the members, fostering a serene and profound dialogue with God and a full realization of the values of consecration.(71)

 

66. The Affirmation of One's Own Charism

 

Some institutes find difficulty in presenting their own charism to the youth who today live particular cultures. There is a caution, therefore, of the necessity of making a notable effort to harmonize oneself with the youth mentality to be able to transmit the vocational message.(72)

Each institute has its history, a parlance, and its own spirituality, and these particularities give a connotation to their own pastoral ministry of vocations. To each charism should correspond the more specific instances. It should be interesting to notice the stronger convergence, even if they are expressed in different manners. These convergence are significant of a proper identity beyond the different institutes and congregations.(73)

 

Chapter V

Pastoral Youth Ministry and Pastoral Ministry of Vocations

A. A Very Tight Bond

67. Complementary Activities

 

In the post-conciliar period, the pastoral vocational ministry has had, and continues to have, an ever greater development. The biblical, theological and pastoral deepenings has clarified their

function and limits. Among other things there has been an effort made to specify the relation existing between the pastoral ministry of vocations and the pastoral youth ministry. The Conclusive Document has clarified very well this point, affirming that "pastoral youth ministry and pastoral vocational ministry are complementary."(74)

 

68. Youth, a Privileged Period

 

The pastoral youth ministry and the pastoral vocational ministry are not separate, juxtaposed, occasional activities. "The youth period is the privileged period, even if not the only period, for the vocational choice. Hence the entire pastoral youth ministry should always be pastoral vocational ministry. 'An intense pastoral action should be reactivated, which, beginning with the Christian vocation in general, and from an enthusiastic pastoral youth ministry, gives the Church the servants of which she has need' (John Paul II, Inaugural Discourse, IV, b, AAS p. 204)."(75)

 

69. Necessary Attention to Consecrated Vocations

 

In the line of principle, all the conferences are in agreement in affirming that in the various educative journeys in the schools, in the parochial communities, in the associations, in the families, there cannot be lacking the vocational reality; it is, in fact, their summit. Nor can we stop at the Christian vocation in generic form, but we must propose also the various vocations for the ordained ministries and for the different forms of consecration: "The basic pastoral youth ministry would be incomplete if it were not open also to the consecrated vocations."(76)

 

70. To Discover and Carry out the Project of God

 

The greatest service that can be offered the youth is that of helping them discover and carry out the plan of God for each one. "The pastoral youth ministry becomes complete and efficacious when it is open to the vocational dimension."(77)

Its confirmation is had in an evident verification: vocations are arising there where there exists a pastoral youth ministry well organized and well articulated, with a specific pastoral vocational

ministry, since the one and the other give the possibility to the youth to have a living and personal experience with Christ, a strong experience of Christian community, with vocational proposals and

"accompaniment" both personal and of the group.(78)

 

B. The Difficulties of Young People Today

71. The Influence of the Cultural Phenomena

 

The candidates for the presbyterate and for the consecrated life are children of their time, with the virtues and the defects of the new generations. There are general phenomena influential on the

vocations, above all in the Western world. In this context one can affirm that the crisis of vocations experienced in these last ten years is a symptom of a more profound crisis of human and religious

values.

The time in which we live is considered as a period of transition, characterized, therefore, by ambivalent and contradictory attitudes. The profound transformations in society reveal, on the one hand, the inadequacy of traditional cultures, and on the other hand, the restless need of new projects of human existence.

The dominant anthropologies have polarized the attention on the autonomy of the person, with its possibilities, freedom, spontaneity, desires, capacity of self-realization. The youth, even unconsciously, daily undergo its fascination. In this vision the vocational dimension becomes an extraneous element, deprived of significance. The culture of the inborn freedom of the new generations demands the fundamental commitment of giving great motivation in the exacting choice of the consecrated life.

The means of social communication not only propose countervalues alien to the consecrated vocation, but in the specific case they often present images of the priest and of the religious life

that refer to other times, and render these vocations ridiculous and unreal for the modern youth.(79)

The increasing difficulties of contrasting the daily tendencies of culture and of society constitute a permanent challenge for the pastoral vocational ministry. In every case one should not permit the

difficulties to succeed in causing lack of confidence, reticence, blameworthy omissions.

72. Social and Ecclesial Factors

 

Great influence in the vocational pastoral ministry have social factors well known to everyone, such as secularization, permissiveness, consumerism, the laicization of the school birth

control, and similar factors. Also well known are the more properly ecclesial factors, such as the decline of faith, the lack of theological clarity, the counter-testimonies of the consecrated, the abandonment of spiritual direction, the pastoral ministry of waiting and the vagueness of proposal, the lack of formation people, and similar factors.(80)

In developing countries, the increase of vocations, both youth and adult, is creating grave financial problems. Many candidates do not have the means of sustaining themselves during the years of formation. Ordinarily not even the dioceses possess the funds for assuming the responsibility for them.(81)

Some religious congregations and orders do not succeed in influencing the youth with the signs of their religious family. Difficult has become the language of communication and of understanding

regarding the nature of the consecrated. The vocational animators themselves often adopt a parlance that the youth do not succeed in understanding because it is outside of their mental patterns.(82)

 

73. The Problematic Attitude of the Families

 

The reports that have arrived reveal how, above all in the Western countries, the families often give evidence of an attitude of possession and of "planningness" regarding their children. The fall in

birthrate and the phenomenon of only one child aggravate the situation.

Few are the parents who encourage the vocation of their children. Those few parents, later, often discourage even the same children during their journey, making their perseverance difficult.(83)

 

74. Psychological Frailty

 

Frequently the youth show emotional instability in the face of the solicitations of the consumeristic and materialistic culture; they show little capacity of making decisions and feel the need of seeing the commitments to be assumed confirmed by someone. Indeed they fear to lose their own freedom and wish to prove and tn experience concretely the type of life, before making important decisions of a vocational character.

There is observed even that today numerous youths are very little attracted by the priesthood and by religious life. Some of them recognize the positive value and the significance of such vocations,

and generally have great admiration and respect for the persons who consecrate themselves for a vocation to a mode of life totally committed, but for various reasons more often they do not decide to make the same step.(84)

One cannot deny, on the other hand, that on diverse occasions all the interest is turned to the matrimonial life, while little is said about the consecrated vocation.(85)

 

75. Perplexity in the Face of a Definitive Commitment

 

Many youths present great difficulties in assuming and carrying out long-term commitments; many youths express fears and hesitancy in front of a definitive commitment, or for life, for the reason that they prefer partial experiences and for a determined time. This phenomenon is revealed not only in contracting marriage, but also in regard to celibacy and the religious vows, with major accent on the latter, given the commitment for life that the priesthood and consecration involve. One life committed for a long term seems beyond the conception of the greater part of the youth today; this attitude is thought by some conferences to be one of the principal factors in the present decline of vocations.(86)

 

76. The Lengthening of Adolescence and Connected Problems

 

It is an evident fact: with exceptions, there is observed in today's youth the lengthening of adolescence and the tendency to postpone always more the vocational choices.

Not everyone expresses the same evaluation of the phenomenon. For some it is a further proof of the psychological fragility of the youth of today. For others, the tendency of many youths who embark on the way of the priesthood and of the religious life at a more mature age and with a university degree already acquired, is seen a positive phenomenon, especially on the part of those responsible for the seminaries and for the formative institutes.(87)

To be kept in mind also are the problems due to the rapid change between one generation and the other. It is a reason for which the vocational animators see themselves obliged to continually change

their method of work.(88)

 

77. The Advanced Age of Numerous Communities

 

The aging of the communities is a difficulty abundantly underlined. Given the high median age of religious men and women, many works and activities are carried forward by elderly persons who do

not have real possibilities of alternating with others.

The increase of the median age calls for greater difficulties in the management, not only of the undertakings, but also of the religious communities themselves. This fact produces in the communities tiredness, a certain lack of confidence, and little attention to the vocational problem; in the youth there is noticed little interest for the institutes which are not very open to, and distant from their world.(89)

 

78. Evolution and Situations in the Countries of East Europe

 

After the changes that have taken place recently in the countries of East Europe, it seems that in some of them the youth accepts the proposals of consecrated vocations with ever growing reserve, giving evidence in certain situations of: bewilderment, frustrations, difficulty of making autonomous decisions, the tendency to indifference and of closing themselves within themselves, difficulty in overcoming the actual conditionings. A part of the Catholic youth of East Europe,

characterized by altruism, now turns more often to their own interests and personal commitment to social, political and cultural problems outside the activities of the Church.(90)

 

C. Values on Which to Establish a Constructive Pedagogy

79. The Fascination for Jesus Christ

 

Notwithstanding the difficulties of various kinds, underlined are positive factors and values particularly perceived by many youths of today, from which the moves for a valid pastoral vocational ministry can be taken. According to what has been underlined by the computers of the episcopal conferences and the conferences of major superiors of religious men and women, such values can be synthesized in the following order: in the first place there is always the fascination exercised on the youth by the person of Christ, by his lifestyle, by the radical following, by the exemplarity of the most holy Mary.

The other priority values are: prayer and the strong experience of God, community life, service of the oppressed and of the marginalized, the style of poverty, gratuitousness, universal solidarity,

the charism of the institute, consecration as such. It is obvious that these values form an ideal unity and include one another. If, given particular sensibilities one particular value is pointed at, one must not overlook the essential elements in the journey of proposals and of "accompaniment."

 

80. The Charismatic Perception of the Consecrated Life

 

Some conferences observe that religious consecration, in itself and its charismatic dimension, seems to be the ultimate value perceived and at times such perception is realized after some

immediate contact with the community of the consecrated.(91)

Many youths wish to feel themselves responsible persons in the Church. The ideological fragmentation in progress can enormously help numerous youths who are in true search of the sense of life.

 

D. Specific Problems of Feminine Vocations

81. A Remark of a General Character

 

All the conferences underline the gravity of the crisis of feminine vocations. Though avoiding irrational alarmisms not admissible on the level of faith, it seems useful, nevertheless, to report some considerations that can stimulate the responsibility of everyone.

If the crisis of vocations to the male religious life is often masked by the sacerdotal vocation, the feminine vocations shows all its gravity. The style of the feminine religious life presents itself as less attractive than that of religious men.(92) There are religious families that, in the last ten years, have not had any vocations, other than only one or two a year.(93)

Young women, unlike their male contemporaries, still live an evident moment of socio-cultural and ecclesial uncertainty with some reflections on their vocational search and choice.

 

82. The Feminine Question

 

The image of woman presented today to the contemporary world creates in the soul of young women great difficulties in accepting a consecrated life. It is nevertheless to be underlined that the

contemplative life exercises a great fascination on girls.(95) For young women there still remains open the feminine question that has not yet found a true solution, in a particular way in our settings of the Church. Moreover a lack of agility that many of our structures present make an impediment, at least on the first impression, and contrast clearly with the aspirations that young woman carry within themselves, not only of independence, of self-realization, but also of simplicity and of fraternity in the relations for which only a few succeed in going beyond the exterior facade to accept their values. The question about woman and the Church cuts off a part of the girls.(96)

Now that the traditional apostolate has been liberally assumed by the laity, women do not see clearly why their is need to assume the obligations of the consecrated life in apostolic institutes for the purpose of exercising certain services for the Church. The sensitiveness for the male prerogatives in the Church, aggravated by a radicalized and confused search for the feminine identity, is a further problem for such vocations. The recovered freedom that women enjoy today in comparison with past times can render them more vulnerable than the men to the pressures of our materialistic and secularized society.(97)

At times the feminine religious congregations place the activities and organizations in their own interior, without a clear presence in the world and in the Church. Many religious women are in a hurry to admit candidates, not respecting the stages of maturation of their faith for a more conscious choice. Consequently desertions are numerous.(98)

Many priests do not concern themselves to orientate young women in a spiritual process that could lead to a consecrated vocation.(99)

 

83. Future Possibilities

 

The perspectives for the future of feminine vocations are difficult to evaluate. Some foresee that the numbers will diminish, however with the hope of a greater witness, and this is a fact that many today begin to accept. It is important to see after the formation of the vocational animators with greater intensity and attention, so that their presence in the world of the youth be more readable and credible, therefore more efficacious for the purposes of a vocation proposal.(100)

It is suggested, moreover, to transform and eliminate structures that work against the clear and irradiating witness that should be transmitted. There is need to work to offer young women models of women vocational strong. There is need of more witness of women committed totally to the following of Christ.(101) Where the communities are more open, and welcome young women among them, they are having positive results. There is hope that in the future each congregation will be in a position to sacrifice a person of the community to work full time for vocations. In this way

there certainly will be more results.(102)

 

84. Problems of Feminine Vocations in Developing Countries

 

In developing countries there exist particular difficulties for the young women. Here are some of them: the situation of the poverty of many families; the very low scholastic level; the profound sense of maternity which is considered an indispensable quality for the woman; virginity considered as something against the will of God; premature matrimony imposed by the parents even without the knowledge of the girls; the labor of the young women for the financial support oœ the family, even at the cost of the interruption of studies; the lack of autonomy in their own decisions the most elementary Christian formation.(103)

Numerous institutes, especially of Europe, have sought to resolve their crisis somehow with vocations coming from the developing countries which are vocational richer. Not always, however, have the methods been those indicated in the Conclusive Document and in other documents of the Church. At times it has been a matter of an indiscriminate "recruiting with negative consequences for the local Churches, for the persons, and for the congregations themselves.(104)

 

85. Some Suggestions and Orientations

 

It is extremely advantageous to encounter, form and animate young women for a better understanding of the feminine religious vocation. That is possible is there is applied a pedagogical planning based on the way with which the Church understands the person and the mission of woman. For this service it is indispensable to be in strict contact with young women; to know their aspirations, their parlance, their world, the way of understanding the sense of their life and the realization of their faith. All this is achieved with diverse means in the scholastic environment, in the movements, in their catechesis, in their education.

It is necessary to sustain the communities in their putting in act an undertaking of vocational promotion, open to the Church; moreover, to form and help the religious women called to work in the service of vocations, charging persons full-time and preparing them to have a certain experience of "accompanying" young women, in groups and personally; in a wider range to sensitize all religious women for the pastoral vocational ministry.(105)

 

E. The Best Successful Experiences in Vocational Orientation of the Young

86. The Great Variety of Initiatives

 

The most significant and most widespread experiences in these recent years for the vocational orientation of the youth are numerous and various. Here are reported some of them as examples, favoring those recurring more often in the reports of the conferences that replied to the consultation.

1) One of the better experiences of vocational promotion seems to be achieved in the close union of the youth with priests and other consecrated persons who are happy with their vocation and their

state.(106)

2) The schools of prayer and the accentuated times of spirituality: exercises and spiritual retreats, days and weeks of "desert," youth pilgrimages, times of reflection, vocational Cenacles, youth

encounters on the figure of the founder or of a saint, weekends of prayer and fraternity, etc.(107)

3) Spiritual direction and vocational "accompaniment" with personal contacts. It is a point on which nearly all the replies intervene a bit with force. Spiritual direction and the "accompanying"

are a conditio sine qua non of the pastoral vocational ministry.(108) It is ascertained, however, that the priests willing to dedicate themselves to this service are truly few, while in the increase are the

youth who today feel greater need than in other periods. A strong commitment in spiritual direction would bring an increase in the number and in the quality of the vocations of special consecration.

The individual "accompaniment" remains the most important. Religious men and religious women should dedicate the time to listen to the youth, to form them gradually for personal prayer, for listening to the word of God, for active participation in the Eucharist, for spiritual direction as an efficacious means for discerning the will of God.(109)

4) The clear and explicit vocational proposal addressed to the youth who show fitness and readiness. The Supreme Pontiff has repeatedly insisted on not having fear of calling and of directly

proposing to the youth, and to the less young, the call of the Lord.(110) If the conditions exist, it is never too soon to address the invitation. Important is that it does not arrive too late.

5) The external vocational communities and the family seminaries: boys and youths who cannot enter the seminary are "followed" externally. They enter the seminary only when the personal, family or environmental conditions permit it.

6) The preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is a time in which there is offered the possibility of a journey of catechesis particularly apt to make them take notice of the call to a service of the Church.

7) Vocational weeks in the parishes: the decisive occasion of the vocational development is the parochial community. The communities live in the sacraments, in worship, in the faith, in charity,

give vocational fruit. The parish vocational weeks, underlined and carried out by many dioceses, offer the occasion to the youth of seeing and of understanding witnesses and, afterwards, of

participating in courses of vocational camps.(111)

8) Youth for the youth: proposal made by the seminarians and by other youths in formation to their contemporaries: "No one is more suitable than the young for evangelization of the young. The young students who are preparing themselves to the priesthood...as a personal thing and as a community are the first and immediate apostles and witnesses of the vocation amid the other youths."(112)

9) Visits to the seminaries of the dioceses, to monasteries and religious houses, where the youth can pray and meet with persons who live or are achieving an ideal of consecration.(113)

10) Associations and youth groups, groups of voluntary service and of social commitment. Such organizations "possess a pedagogy more suitable for fostering priestly, religious, missionary, and

consecrated lay vocations, precisely since they cooperate more directly for the pastoral ministry, and therefore for the life and for the mission of the Church."(114) There are those who require the life of a youth group for at least two years before the entry into the seminary.(115)

The groups of the journey of faith, the youth movements, and the vocational groups offer the youth the possibility of living their faith in depth, and permit them at the same time to discover that they are not the only ones to ask themselves questions on the Christian sense of life and on their vocation. The numerous experiences of commitment, both on the parochial level and on the level of the poorest and most abandoned, interpellate the youths on their manner of living the radical following of Christ.(116) All these experiences or initiatives, and others similar to them, are

considered by those who educate to faith always more as the important moments of a vocational journey lived in the vital context of the Christian community, aware that a vocational choice does not mature only through incidental experiences of faith, but through a patient spiritual journey.

87. New Forms of Vocational "Accompaniment"

 

Besides the minor seminaries and analogous institutions for the different forms of consecrated life having their precise identity, numerous conferences report other forms of "accompaniment" that

are being diffused according to the situations of particular Churches.

1) Vocational residences: in some dioceses there exist centers of orientation in which possible candidates live. These seek to discern their vocation while they continue their studies in the university centers or in other schools. It is a positive experience, since it has given many vocations to the major seminary and to the religious life.(117)

Similar are the centers of information placed at the disposition of the candidates, to show them the perspectives and the vocational choices.(118)

2) The propaedeutic year before entry into the major seminary. The number of young men who come directly to the major seminary increases always more. In numerous dioceses there is already in act a period of discernment, of catechesis, of integration into the Christian life.(119)

3) The pre-seminary where boys and youths are sent for a vocational research. The candidates who entered without secondary studies complete them in other institutions outside the seminary.(120)

4) The communities of vocational reception. It is a matter of communities "animated by priests, religious men or religious women, in relation with the particular Church, with constant commitment for the total consecration of their life for the Kingdom of God."(121) Given the characteristics of the religious life and the needs of the youth of today, these forms of vocational "accompaniment" are preferred by the religious families. But also numerous are the diocesan seminaries that welcome possible candidates for a more or less long time. At the right moment the young men enter the

seminaries or other institutes of consecrated life. These communities propose to carry out the invitation of Jesus: "Come and seen"; they offer the possibility for the young men or young women of making a concrete experience of the consecrated life in order to discern their vocation in the institute; they witness values such as the experience of total giving to God, of prayer, of fraternity, of mission according to the charism of the institute. They are not, however, in the proper sense seminaries, "probandates," and the like.

The success of these experiences is bound to the renewal of the communities. "The religious institutes know that the new vocations demand renewed communities, certain of their identity, happy to express their charism with renewed vigor in the service of God, of the Church, of humanity."(122) The youth give positive responses when they encounter communities that live the Gospel, that pray, that express their happiness, that serve the poor, that are faithful to the charism of their institute.(123) These communities are born and are being diffused, since they constitute a concrete response to the question of many youths of today.

The statistics reported by some conferences evidence very satisfying results concerning the discernment and the perseverance of the candidates that come from communities of reception.

 

88. The Contribution of the Catholic Schools

 

The episcopal conferences of numerous countries affirm that the catholic schools, in proposing with clarity the value of the ordained ministry and of the other calls, become effectively happy sources of consecrated vocations.

In other countries very few are the catholic schools that work out a project of vocation proposal and very low is the percentage of the vocations that are developed in their environment.

In the catholic school the promotion for the ordained ministries and for the consecrated life is done in a more discreet way in respect to the past when the religious personnel was more abundant. It is a more difficult task for the lay teachers, who today are in the majority. It is asserted that where there are religious men and religious women directing the school, or among the teaching personnel, there is a great concern for vocations.(124)

Given the so small number of the religious in catholic schools, the youth have little knowledge, experience or familiarity with the religious life. For them the religious life remains an incomprehensible reality.(125) With pain it is ascertained that the traditional religious communities dedicated to education do not have vocations. As a consequence the catholic schools do not provide a sufficient number of religious men and women as witnesses of this type of vocation, nor do they succeed in developing vocational promotion in an adequate manner.(126)

 

Chapter VI

Organizational Aspects

 

A. Unitary Centers for Vocations

89. Organisms of Communion

 

The unitary commitment of the Christian community for vocations is sustained, nourished and coordinated by some organisms, both on the diocesan as well as the national level.

The unitary centers aim to facilitate the coordination of the pastoral efforts among those responsible, to stimulate reflection and research on the pastoral ministry of vocations, to diffuse the results obtained, to collaborate with the episcopacy for the drawing up of necessary orientations, to constitute a privileged place of consultation in this delicate sector.(127)

Among the causes that contribute to slow down the organization of a true diocesan service for vocations, there is recalled the fact that very often the persons responsible are completely absorbed in other pastoral tasks. The too frequent change of the ones responsible hinders the continuity of the service.(128) Nevertheless, avoiding the inconvenience of frequent changes, it must be observed that at times precisely from the renewal of the responsible ones comes new forms of service and of experiences.(129)

 

90. The Diocesan Center for Vocations

 

The diocesan center for vocations is today operating in almost all dioceses, even if those who have reached a satisfying unitary planning are few. Their journey, very brief, probably should be better tested in time.

For the purpose, above all, of "fostering a unitary pastoral vocational ministry," Vatican II illustrated the purposes and the tasks of this diocesan organism and of analogous national and regional organisms: "The undertakings of vocations, already set up, or to be set up, in the individual dioceses, regions or nations, according to the norm of the pontifical directives, should direct in a methodical and harmonious manner the total pastoral action for fostering vocations."(130)

"Every delay in establishing this organism and in making it efficient is translated into a damage to the Church."(131)

It is important, not only that the center exist, but that it be working, that there are persons available, if possible at full time, who will collaborate and participate in a unitary way in all the sectors of the diocesan pastoral ministry, without ignoring each other, or worse, being in opposition among themselves.

The Conclusive Document indicates in the following way the concrete services of the diocesan center for vocations: "spread a strong inspiration of faith; nourish spirituality and prayer; bring

vocational animation into the pastoral ministry of the parochial communities, involving movements, groups, services and other communities working in them; insert the pastoral vocational ministry

into the youth pastoral ministry; sustain the various initiatives of 'accompaniment,' especially in the minor seminaries and analogous institutions; create and spread suitable publications; take care of the preparation of the persons who have received the specific mandate of the care and 'accompaniment' of the calls from bishops, from religious superiors of men and of women, from other responsible persons for the consecrated life.(132)

There are episcopacies that declare that they have not up until now established the national center for vocations.(133)

 

91. ProhibitiveCosts in the Use of the Mass Media.

 

Though recognizing the importance of the means of social communication, little use is being made of them, for the reason of the prohibitive costs.(134) Nevertheless there is a sufficiently

widespread use of alternative means such as: little programs for the radio, helps and audiovisual aids, video cassettes, and the like.

 

B. Preparation and Updating of the Pastoral Plans

92. Operative Programs

 

After the publication of the Conclusive Document numerous particular Churches worked out or updated their Plan for Vocations, taking the text of the Congress as their base.

The activity of the diocesan center for vocations will be efficacious on the condition that there be an operative plan or program of pastoral vocational ministry, short-term and long-term. "The problem of vocations," observed Pope Paul VI, "is certainly always a problem in the Church, but today it is more than ever felt and urgent, and so requires a uniting of forces, a placing in common of the various experiences, and a following of very precise plans in this delicate sector of the pastoral ministry."(135)

The Holy Father, John Paul II, adds, "The admirable pastoral programs of the individual Churches, the undertaking of vocations that, according to the Council, should dispose and foster all the pastoral activity for vocations, open the way, prepare the good soil for the grace of the Lord."(136) To be underlined then is that an operative plan stimulates a continuous and constant, and not only occasional animation, and concretizes the corresponsibility and the joint venturing of persons and communities.

 

93. A Plan Also for Religious Families

 

Initially the Plans for Vocations, under the helping hand of the Holy See, were worked out on great part for particular Churches on the national and diocesan levels. The ecclesial experience of these years made the conviction mature ever more that, for a fruitful pastoral ministry of vocations, extremely useful-not only for the dioceses and for the national Churches, but also for the religious families-is an organic project that indicates contents and methods, structures and initiatives, lines of action and pastoral choices, for the purpose of involving all the communities in a permanent way. Thus many religious institutes of men, and of women, worked out their plan with fruit, considered as an instrument useful for conducting, with order and efficacy, the specific pastoral ministry for vocations within and outside the institute.(137)

It is obvious that a plan cannot be a substitute for supernatural means. The principal agent of every vocation is always God, even if he makes use of our collaboration. An operative plan remains a precious aid, provided you respect the nature of the vocation.

 

C. Collaboration Between Diocesan and Religious Clergy

94. Resistance and Difficulties

 

Though recognizing the noteworthy steps made in these years concerning the collaboration among the various persons responsible for diocesan and religious vocations, there must, nevertheless, be

noted some resistance for a decisive unitary pastoral vocational ministry as a commitment coordinated in the diversity of the responsibilities.(138)

 

95. Mutual Ignorance

 

In the most difficult situations there exists a mutual ignorance among diocesan, religious and secular institutes, that in many cases becomes a disregard of the value of the "ecclesial vocation" as the base of vocational work, and a mutual ignorance of the value of distinct vocations in the Church.(139)

 

96. Mutual Relations

 

The document Mutuae Relationes wished to avoid unpleasant situations that have dragged on for a long time, when it reminded us that "no obstacles should be placed in the way of the divine action;

on the contrary, each one should be enabled to respond to his calling with the greatest freedom. For that matter, history itself can abundantly testify to the fact that the diversity of vocations, and

particularly the co-existence and collaboration of secular and religious clergy are not detrimental to dioceses but rather enrich them with new spiritual treasures and increase notably their apostolic

vitality."(140) It is a point on which there is still much to be done.

 

97. Permanence of Some Obstacles

 

It is worth nothing to launch accusations at one another, even if these have a real foundation, whether in the diocesan or in the religious priests.

It has been noted on the part of many religious that in general the pastoral vocational ministry is directed almost exclusively to sacerdotal vocations and not so much to other vocations.(141) In the

questionnaires there are very frequent complaints of the masculine and feminine religious families concerning the poor collaboration on the part of the diocesan clergy for the promotion of religious

vocations.(142) Some conferences consider the lack of collaboration in this sector as one of the major scandals of their community.(143)

Another observation: it is easier to find religious who commit themselves in the service of diocesan vocations than to find diocesan men who consent to promote the religious life, the sense of which they do not always know. It is easier to see diocesan clergy and sisters collaborating privately in the vocational sector than to see them cooperate in the sphere of a vocational structure at the

diocesan and interdiocesan level. Consequently, this type of collaboration seems a private interchange of good services, rather than a conforming to a theological and ecclesial imperative.(144) Notwithstanding the progress of these years, by the diocesan clergy there are reported forms of exaggerated proselytism on the part of some congregations and orders, with "parishes-fief" and religious outside of the pastoral vocational ministry of the diocese.(145)

Many diocesan priests, especially in the territories of mission ad gentes, do not permit vocational promotion in their parishes, or if they permit it, it is made possible only to the indigenous (local)

congregations, and not to the international missionary religious families.(146) On the subject there are expressed complaints also against some bishops of these regions who do not admit the vocational promotion of the religious men and of the religious women in their own dioceses.(147)

 

98. The Need of Greater Coordination

 

The Mixed Commissions, Bishops-Major Superiors, succeed in making a greater coordination between the various expressions, coordination and promotion, that often arise and stay in the sphere

of the same Commissions.(148)

There is expressed the wish that bishops and religious would establish ever more fraternal relations, in such a way that the bishops and the religious feel themselves helped and welcomed, and would receive encouragement and collaboration in the building of the Kingdom of God. That the pastors be formed to animate corresponsibility in the Christian community in promoting and making vocations to the ordained ministry and to the consecrated life grow.(149)

 

Conclusion

99. Signs of Hope and Perspectives

 

The principal objective of this new intervention of the Apostolic See can be thus summarized: to place within the reach of all the reflections of the episcopal conferences and of the conferences of

major superiors of religious men and women, in order to sensitize the particular Churches to the problem of vocations and to promote the renewal and updating of the pastoral ministry of vocations

through a further achievement of the contents of the Conclusive Document of the 1981 Congress. The application of this text has already given much fruit to the entire Church, but much more fruit

can be had in the future.

Numerous conferences wished to express their gratitude to the Congregation for Catholic Education and to the Congregation for the Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, since through the consultation, there has been offered them the occasion of reflecting once again on the "fundamental problem of the Church." They express also the conviction that this attention, beyond the right motivations adopted, constitutes a positive sign for a greater increase of vocations in the individual particular Churches and in the universal Church. In that context there are placed in evidence signs of hope and encouraging perspectives.

 

1) There is no doubt that the pastoral ministry of vocations is assuming the position that belongs to it in the Christian communities. The command of the Lord to "pray the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest" is held "the primary and essential value in what regards the vocation." In the reports of the episcopacies and of the conferences of major superiors of men and of women there certainly emerge lights and shadows. Nevertheless, in faith it is always possible to perceive the light of hope. The Holy Father has often spoken of a new springtime of vocations in the Church.

2) Among the fruit that is being manifested in many particular Churches, underlined most frequently are the following: an ever more clear consciousness of the mission of the pastoral vocational ministry; a better arranged theology of vocation; greater concern for the specific formation of the candidates; an increasing number of persons devoted to the pastoral youth-vocational ministry; creation of structures more agile and suitable for animation; consciousness of the communitarian corresponsibility in giving rise to, and "accompanying," the new vocations; increase of the quality of the vocations in the countries that are suffering a diminution of the number of vocations; communities of reception always more numerous and more in keeping with the necessary discernment of the vocations in the youth.

3) In the recent years there has been noted a greater commitment in the dioceses and in the religious congregations in dedicating priests, religious men and sisters for the vocational service full-time. At the same time there is noted an effort in the formation of diocesan centers and of parochial teams of pastoral vocational ministry.

4) In respect to the recent past, there seems overcome the concern of addressing the call and of speaking about vocation and about consecrated vocations. The silence of the proposal is

subduing, even if there are not lacking priests, religious men and religious women and other responsible persons still reticent about speaking of vocation in an explicit way to the youth.

5) Diocesan plans both of those dioceses that have a specific Pastoral Plan for Vocations, as well as of those that characterize vocationally the general pastoral plan are gradually being

harmonized with the Conclusive Document.

6) There is reported an increase of the number of youth who come directly for the major seminary or the novitiates during the course of studies of the secondary (high) school or of the university, originating from the journeys of faith of the Christian community.

7) For the situation of crisis persisting and still fluctuating on the statistical plane, there is noticed now for some years a renewed and intense commitment of pastoral vocational ministry both on the level of diocese and of religious institutes. Such a commitment is also marked by a renewed pastoral vocational ministry.

8) In the frame of a generalized commitment of every particular Church there is emerging the consciousness that the pastoral vocational ministry is not a simple ambit or a sector of the pastoral

ministry of the Christian community, but the unifying perspective of all the pastoral ministry innately vocational and, therefore, that the pastoral ministry of vocations cannot be an isolated moment of the global pastoral ministry.

9) The faith and the mission of the particular Church are the resources of the pastoral ministry of vocations. This pastoral ministry enters in the limits of a pastoral ministry of new evangelization, often underlined by the Supreme Pontiff, in a Church not withdrawn within itself through the anguish of shortage, but in a Church which is living and full of joy, open to the always new breath of Pentecost, and attentive to the needs of the men of today.

10) There is also increasing the consciousness that the pastoral ministry of vocations will be inefficacious if it is not sustained by prayer, and if it is not accompanied by the witness of life. The

impulse given to the Church after Vatican II would have need of another breath, and the Conclusive Document presents itself as useful for assuring this new impulse to the pastoral ministry of

vocations.

 

Rome, January 6, 1992, Epiphany of Our Lord.

 

Pio Cardinal Laghi

President

 

+Jose Saraiva Martins

Titular Bishop of Thuburnica

Vice President

Notes

1. With the same title there is published in English, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese the Conclusive Document of the Congress under the care of four Sacred Congregations: for the Oriental Churches, for the Religious and for Secular Institutes, for the Evangelization of the Peoples, for Catholic Education.

2. Arrived are the reports by the Episcopal Conferences of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Philippines, France, Germany, Guatemala, England, Ireland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Malta, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Scandinavia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, United States of America, Uruguay.

The National Conferences of the Major Superiors of Men and Women of these countries have replied to the consultation: Angola, Antilles, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Korea, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, England, Ireland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tyrol, Togo, United States of America, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe. From some of these countries there have arrived different responses for the men religious and for the women religious (e.g., Argentina, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Kenya, Senegal, Togo, United States of America).

To all these reports, there are to be added the contributions coming from individual dioceses and for the International Union of Superiors General (of women). For this last one, cf in particular the inquiry made about "The Recruiting of Vocations in Countries of the Third World" (April 21,1991).

3. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Spain, Scotland, Puerto Rico, Portugal Italy, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, Canada.

4. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the Netherlands, of Switzerland and the Conferences of the Major Superiors of Malta, Poland, Tanzania, Antilles.

5. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Germany, Austria, Chile, Yugoslavia.

6. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Bangladesh, Belgium, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, Cuba, Japan, Ecuador, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon and others.

7. For example, the Brazilian Episcopate proclaimed 1987 "Vocational Year," to be achieved with numerous activities on the national, diocesan and parochial levels, taking as a base the Document, which had just been promulgated. The same sensitization was continued annually in August, declared "Vocational Month" for the entire country.

8. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Italy, Spain and Australia.

9. When this dossier speaks of "vocations to the ordained ministries and to other forms of consecrated life," or of "consecrated vocations," and of "vocations of special consecration," or simply of vocations," if the context allows it, it means to adapt itself to what is prescribed in the Code of Canon Law and to the Editing Note of the Conclusive Document. It wishes, therefore, to understand vocations: to the ordained ministries; to religious life in the specific configuration outlined by the Code of Canon Law (canon 731); to the secular institutes in the variety of their functions; to missionary life in the precise sense of mission ad gentes. When it speaks simply of "religious life," it intends to make reference also to the "Societies of Apostolic Life," above all in respect to the specific nature of every vocation.

10. John Paul II, "Discourse to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education, L'Osservatore Romano, April 6, 1984.

11. Cf, for example, the report of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia.

12. Cf L'Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae, which, year by year, presents the quantitative aspects of the Catholic Church.

13. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the Netherlands and of the United States of America.

14. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Australia and of Switzerland.

15. Cf for example, the reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Brazil and of the Netherlands.

16. Cf the report of the Conference of the Major Superiors of Poland.

17. Cf the report of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference.

18. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of the Netherlands.

19. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Angola.

20. Report of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference.

21. Cf report of the Italian Conference of Major Superiors.

22. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conference of Canada and of the Conference of Major Superiors of Malaysia.

23. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of the Netherlands.

24. Cf the reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Austria and of Togo.

25. Cf for example, the reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the following countries: France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, United States, Portugal, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia.

26. This is a remark made by the German Episcopal Conference in its report.

27. Conclusive Document, 4. The Document adds in the same place that "if we present to the youth the true face of the Church, its mission in the world, which is service of communion, participation, salvation, life, they will find help in subscribing to it and in committing themselves. If we guide them to discover, in the friendship of Jesus for them, the conducting thread of their existence, they will be faithful in their friendship for him, ready to let themselves be called, even to a life consecrated totally to his service."

28. Ibid., 7.

29. Report of the Belgium Episcopal Conference.

30. These remarks were made by the Episcopal Conference of Australia in its report. For everything that refers to the vocation and mission of the laity, cf John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles laici, December 30, 1988.

31. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

32. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Canada, of Ecuador and of the Netherlands.

33. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

34. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of the Netherlands.

35. Conclusive Document, 7.

36. Ibid., 8-9.

37. Ibid., 13.

38. This outline was proposed by the Conference of the Major Superiors of France.

39. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the following countries: Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Spain.

40. Cf the report of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference.

41. Conclusive Document, 28.

42. Ibid., 56.

43. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Brazil and of Australia.

44. Also the above cited Congress of Vienna, organized by the Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors in October 1989, reported that "still in the Christian communities, with certain exceptions, the religious life is ignored or poorly known. At times the religious men and religious women are more well known for that which they do (schools, hospitals, etc.) rather than for what they are in the Church."

45. Conclusive Document, 10.

46. Cf report of the Italian Conference of Major Superiors.

47. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

48. Cf report of the Conference of the Major Superiors of Egypt.

49. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

50. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Brazil Bolivia and of Canada.

51. For the entire content of this number, cf John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Missio, about the permanent validity of the missionary mandate, especially numbers 32-38.

52. Cf report of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

53. Cf reports of the Italian Episcopal Conference and of the Conference of the Major Superiors of Switzerland.

54. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

55. Cf Conclusive Document, 17. Cf also the report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

56. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Canada.

57. Cf report of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

58. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

59. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Puerto Rico.

60. Cf report of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

61. Cf Christus Dominus, 15.

62. Cf Mutuae Relationes, 9. The Conference of Major Superiors of Yugoslavia reports that the bishops are still "interested" in the problem, "but leave to the individual religious communities the

initiative and the obligation regarding the promotion of their own vocations."

63. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

64. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia.

65. Cf report of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

66. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil.

67. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

68. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

69. Cf report of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference. For other points on the ecclesial base communities, cf John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, op. cit., 51.

70. Cf report of the Italian Conference of Major Superiors.

71. Cf reports of the Conference of Major Superiors of Ecuador and Italy.

72. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

73. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of France.

74. Cf Conclusive Document, 42.

75. Cf Documents of Puebla, 865.

76. John Paul II, Message for XXII World Day of Prayer for Vocations, January 26, 1985.

77. Conclusive Document, 42.

78. Cf report of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

79. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

80. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the following countries: Canada, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Scotland.

81. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines.

82. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Austria. Italy.

83. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

84. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Australia, Austria and of the Conference of Major Superiors of Argentina.

85. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the following countries: Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal and Scotland.

86. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Belgium and of Australia, and of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Japan, of Malta and of Singapore.

87. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

88. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Scotland.

89. Cf reports of the Conference of Major Superiors of France and of Italy.

90. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Poland.

91. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Portugal.

92. Cf report of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Spain and of Italy.

93. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Malta.

94. Cf report of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

95. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conference of Austria and of the Conference of Major Superiors of Japan.

96. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Switzerland and Itlay.

97. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

98. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Brazil and of the Philippines.

99. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Spain.

100. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Malta.

101. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Spain.

102. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Malta. 103. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of the following countries: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Peru.

104. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines. Given the spread of the phenomenon indicated here, the International Union of Superiors General (UlSG), on April 29,1991, communicated the results of an inquiry conducted among forty-eight feminine religious congregations to know their opinion on the "Recruiting of Vocations in Countries of the Third World." Here in synthesis are the conclusions of the inquiry: In general the "recruitment" (in the negative sense of the term) is refused because it is unacceptable, damaging for the religious life, very often disastrous for the young women. Vocational discernment is held to be difficult when there is not verified a direct and suitably long contact with the young women with the life and the activities of the religious family to which they aspire. Clearly noticed is the need that the vocational "accompaniment" and the initial formation be achieved in the country of origin; in case of impossibility, it is suggested to seek the best way for safeguarding the fundamental requirements of the vocation, by seeing as soon as possible for the creation of conditions suitable for the purpose.

105. These suggestions are given by the Conference of Major Superiors of France in their own report.

106. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Australia, of Argentina and of the United States of America.

107. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil and of the Italian Conference of Major Superiors.

108. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of the Philippines and of Germany.

109. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Ghana and of Egypt.

110. Cf John Paul II, Message for the XVI World Day of Prayer for Vocations, January 6, 1979.

111. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Austria and of Canada.

112. Conclusive Document, 41. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Yugoslavia.

113. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Costa Rica, Poland and Yugoslavia.

114. Cf Conclusive Document, 40.

115. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia.

116. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conference of Canada and of the Conference of Major Superiors of Egypt.

117. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Spain, Cuba, Costa Rica, Yugoslavia.

118. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conference of Australia and of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Egypt and Kenya.

119. Many dioceses and religious families, above all of Latin America, with this initiative have seen the index of perseverance of the candidates rise.

120. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina.

121. Conclusive Document, 52.

122. Ibid., 10.

123. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Japan.

124. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Canada.

125. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Australia.

126. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador.

127. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Canada.

128. Cf Ibid.

129. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia.

130. Optatam Totius, 2.

131. Conclusive Document, 57.

132. Ibid., 59.

133. Cf for example, the reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Australia, of Canada and of Costa Rica.

134. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Australia and of Brazil.

135. Discourse to the participants in the Congress for Vocations, February 11, 1970, Teachings of Paul VIII, Vatican Polyglot Press, VIII (1970), pp. 130-131.

136. Message of the XVI World Day of Prayer for Vocations, January 6, 1979.

137. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Malta, Spain and Costa Rica.

138. Cf report of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

139. Cf reports of the Episcopal Conferences of Argentina and of the Conference of Major Superiors of Argentina, Costa Rica, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland.

140. Mutuae Relationes, 39.

141. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina.

142. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Costa Rica.

143. Cf report of Conference of Major Superiors of Ethiopia.

144. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Haiti.

145. Cf report of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil.

146. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Bangladesh, of Burundi, of Cuba.

147. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of Ivory Coast and of Yugoslavia.

148. Cf reports of the Conferences of Major Superiors of the countries: Ecuador, Ireland, Poland, Austria.

149. Cf report of the Conference of Major Superiors of Portugal.