Crossing Culture
November 16, 2023
More than alms
November 16, 2023

To live our vocation before us

Q: Archbishop J, what is your vision for vocation ministry in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain?

Archbishop Anthony Pantin used to say that “the Seminary is the heart of the Archdiocese”. To know the health of a Church, look at its vocations. A healthy, mature Church produces enough vocations to give to other Churches as missionaries. When there is a shortage of vocations to priesthood, religious life and lay consecrated life, the health of the Church suffers.

My vision for vocation ministry is to address the root of the problem: the lack of formation so Catholics can accept and live their vocations. We need to begin with our belief: “We believe in a God who creates, redeems and calls each person to vocation.” This means each baptised Catholic has a vocation from God. This is foundational.

When we are attuned to our vocation, everything in our life is interpreted according to that perspective. This is the path to true happiness, the “Blessed life”, and it is never too late to walk along that path.

At every stage of our life, we need to keep our vocation before us. It is what links us with God in the vital day-to-day relationship.

To be conscious of your vocation is to pray for the grace each day to bend your will to God’s will; to ask the Holy Spirit to assist you in discerning your vocation; and for the courage to live it fully. This does not occur at only one stage of life; it is a lifelong process which is refined as we age and as we live out God’s call on our life.

Consciousness of vocation draws each of us deeper into our relationship with God. Once I believe God has a purpose for my life, I am drawn into the God who calls and sustains. There is a relationship between consciousness about vocation and consciousness about the God who calls. To live in harmony with God’s call is a tangible way to build relationship with God and have an active spiritual life.

We all need to work together to build a culture where every Catholic is discerning his or her vocation and receiving the formation to live it.

Next steps

We need to establish a vocations team to raise the consciousness of our young to grow a vital relationship with Christ, leading to daily prayer and study, the weekly Eucharist, generosity and evangelisation, and vocation discernment.

Vision: To foster a culture where all Catholics discern, are equipped, and live their vocations (Eph 4:1–16).

Guiding Principle: If we all work together to foster a culture of vocation discernment, we will have the vocations to priesthood, religious life, lay consecrated life and marriage that we need for this generation.

Vocation promotion is not about recruitment. It is about facilitating a vital relationship with Christ where each person is making a spiritual journey and is discerning, being equipped, and living his or her vocation.

Strategic objectives

To achieve our vision, we will gather key persons involved in vocation ministry (one per community) in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, from religious and ecclesial communities, diocesan priests, and Generation S, to establish an Archdiocesan Team for Vocations Promotion.

This group is to work in a collaborative way, using the AEC document, Towards a Framework for Integrating Pastoral Life, as its guide. If we grow a culture where every Catholic is discerning his or her vocation, then the whole community will make discerning vocation to priesthood, religious and ecclesial life part of the routine of the stages of the spiritual life.

This method has at its core four prongs:

  1. Collaboration to create a culture where every Catholic discerns and lives his or her vocation.
  2. Planting seeds of vocation in youth and young adults at strategic stages of their lives, so the young intentionally consider vocations to marriage, priesthood, religious, and ecclesial consecrated life.
  3. For the help of those considering vocations to the priesthood, religious and ecclesial life a formation programme will be designed and managed by the Archdiocesan Team, with further input from the Youth and Family Life Commissions and Generation S.
  4. This programme will begin with basic discipleship formation that initiates the young person into the mystery of Christ and the rhythm of life for a young disciple. Those who respond to the basic formation and believe they have a vocation to the priesthood, religious or ecclesial life will progress to vocation discernment, specifically reflecting on God’s call to consecrated life. In this time, they will be exposed to all the communities and their charisms and be invited to form bonds with those they feel attracted to. Once a person has discerned the community, they move to that community’s formation process to continue their discernment.

Vocation awareness

Vocation awareness is not about priesthood and religious life, primarily; it is about discipleship and missionary discipleship. In this process, people will be formed for their life as Catholics.

One of our deficiencies is that we have not been doing the preparation for marriage in childhood and teens (remote marriage preparation). We need rituals to contain relationships at each stage of the journey. This gives needed guidance and a healthy sense of what relationship with Christ means in the midst of a romantic relationship.

This is another reason partnering with households, as members learn to model discipleship, is a fundamental component of vocation awareness—missioning the domestic Church.

Lumen Gentium states:

The family is, so to speak, the domestic Church. In it parents should by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation as a sacred state. (Lumen Gentium #11)

Parents should be the first to assist the process of discernment of vocation and to model discipleship. What we need first are disciples and missionary disciples—priests, married, consecrated, lay and religious persons, living fully for Christ in obedience to His word and in a generous manner to all God’s people.

Key Message:

We need to build a culture where every Catholic discerns, is equipped, and fully lives his or her vocation.

Action Step:

Pray to God asking for clarity and courage about your vocation. Google and read the AEC document: Towards a Framework for Integrating Pastoral Life.

Scripture Reading:

Eph 4:1–16