3rd Vocational Year in Brazil
On February 8, 2023, all Clergy, Men and Women Religious present in the Diocese of Jataí/GO, were summoned by the Diocesan Bishop, Dom Nélio Domingos Zortea, to participate in a morning of training on the 3rd Vocational Year in Brazil – 11/21 /2022 to 11/26/2023 – whose theme is VOCATION: GRACE AND MISSION and Motto: “Burning hearts, feet on the way” (cf. Lk 24, 32-33).
Sr. Selma Aparecida de Souza, sjbp, as Pastoral Secretary of the Diocese, welcomed those present, motivating them for a prayerful moment. The image of Nossa Senhora Aparecida was introduced into the environment by the hands of one of the nuns. The gospel according to Luke 10,1-9 was proclaimed, followed by a brief reflection by Fr. Nixon Araújo Felix, responsible for the Vocational Ministry of the Diocese, and the Vocational hymn.
Foot. José Luiz da Silva, rector of the Interdiocesan Seminary of Goiânia, made a provocative reflection on the vocational issue. Starting with the phrase: “Our importance in awakening vocations to the ordained ministry and to the consecrated life”.
PROVOCATIONS: What is our mission in the Church and in the world? Do we understand that vocation is grace and mission? Where do we look for solutions to the challenges facing vocations in particular Churches?
Based on these provocations, he began to characterize the issue: first, saying that it is an ecclesiological challenge; second is a theological-pastoral challenge. For “Without priests, in fact, the Church could not live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history – obedience to the command of Jesus: “Go therefore and teach all nations” (Mt. 28, 19) and “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22, 19; cf. 1 Cor 11, 24), that is, the order to proclaim the Gospel and to renew every day the sacrifice of his given Body and of the his Blood shed for the life of the world” (PDV 1).
He followed his reflection by going to the Source: what does biblical revelation say about the call? “Walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother. They cast the net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, 'Follow me and I will make you fishers of men'. And immediately, leaving the nets, they followed him. A little farther on, he saw James, son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, they also in the boat, mending the nets. And soon he called them. And they, leaving their father Zebedee on the boat with the servants, set out to follow him” (Mk 1, 16-20). He pointed out that “We find two important elements in the characters of this text: Walking and working”. He also highlighted what Pope Francis says: “The initiative of the call is from God (...). Throughout the life of the Church, it must always be shown that the initiative belongs to God, "because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19) and that it is "God alone who makes it grow" (1 Cor 3:7). This conviction allows us to maintain joy in the midst of a task so demanding and challenging that it occupies our entire life” (EG 12).
What can we extract so far from the reflection? The awareness of being called leads us to call. Calling young people to follow Jesus is the mission of the bishop, priests, consecrated persons and lay people. Calling is an ontological dimension and a theological character. As Saint John Paul II said: “Yes, the vocational dimension is co-natural and essential to the pastoral care of the Church. The reason lies in the fact that the vocation defines, in a certain sense, the profound being of the Church, even before it operates” (PDV 34).
An authentic call generates other calls
Reflection brought many lights to be prayed for and experienced. In the second stage of formation, Fr. Nixon, presented the project to be developed by all during this vocational year.
GENERAL OBJECTIVE OF THE VOCATION YEAR: To promote a vocational culture in ecclesial communities, families and society, so that they are favorable environments for the awakening of all vocations, as grace and mission, at the service of the Kingdom of God.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES: To cultivate a vocational sensitivity that favors the understanding that all pastoral care is vocational, all formation is vocational and all spirituality is vocational; Strengthen the awareness of missionary discipleship among all baptized men and women, leading them to recognize and assume the vocational identity of lay life as their own and specific way of living baptismal holiness at the service of the Kingdom; Create awareness that awakening vocations to the Consecrated Life and the Ordained Ministry is the task of pastors, religious (a) and the lay faithful of each Parish; Intensify the practice of prayer for vocations in all areas: personal, family and community.
Based on these objectives, lines of action were drawn up, in a very concrete and experiential way; possible actions to be taken.
We ended the formative meeting with the words of the Bishop and with the prayer of the 3rd vocational:
Lord Jesus, sent by the Father and anointed by the Holy Spirit, who make hearts burn and feet set out on the way, help us to discern the grace of your call and the urgency of the mission. Continue to charm families, children, teenagers, young people and adults, so that they are able to dream and give themselves, with generosity and vigour, at the service of the Kingdom, in your Church and in the world. Awaken the new generations to the vocation to Lay Ministries, Marriage, Consecrated Life and Ordained Ministries. Mary, Mother, Teacher and Missionary Disciple, teach us to listen to the Gospel of Vocation and to respond with joy. Amen!"
Sr. Lusineide Cardoso de Melo
e Sr. Selma Aparecida de Souza, sjbp