Vocations workshop addresses changes in Church

I attended a vocations workshop on April 30 with  Sister Anna Tram Nguyen at Mercy Center in St. Louis. The theme of the workshop was Walk with Me: Encounter Accompaniment and Invitation.

The session opened with a prayer “called into being by the God of all creation.” Dr. Hosffmann Ospina, PhD, presented a video conference after the vocations workshop that addressed issues from the 2018 NRVC Convocation. He spoke about changes in the Catholic Church in the United States and the rise of the Global South (the minority) that influenced how the North became reshaped and transformed.

As part of the vocations workshop, Dr. Ospina also addressed the eco-interdependence shift and spoke about impact that  technology and media are having on the world. According to him, 95 percent of the world’s population uses internet as a tool for communication and interconnectedness.

Dr. Ospina said that secularization in the United States has increased dramatically and that religious vocations are perceived as a private relationship with God. He believes that Asians, Latinos and Africans are the hope for vocations in the United States.

We also heard him say:

  • Realities matter and shape our vocation.
  • The Eucharist, the breaking of bread, teaching and reaching renews the sense of Faith.
  • Welcome minority people as brothers and sisters and increase the spirit of inclusivity in the Church, for they are not commodities.
  • An invitation to integration!
  • Every new member in the church and community changes the experience of mutual enrichment.

Panel presenters

During the afternoon session of the vocations workshop we heard from a panel of persons in novitiate and juniorate programs. They shared about their vocation call, what attracted them to religious life, their concerns and challenges in the community, experiences in the wider Church and what sustains them in their religious calling in spite of the issues and how they respond to living their vocation. 

They spoke about cultural and community diversity as a challenge and how we as congregations can be open and invest ourselves to these realities.

Instrument of God’s work

As we reflected on our day, we realized that the Church and congregations are facing the challenges of decreasing membership. Being an instrument of God’s work, the formation directors are committed to going wherever and doing whatever is needed.

For example, some directors said they look for vocations among the immigrant groups. Others offer online formation classes and courses for new members who are living in another country or state. Others said they are willing to take risks and invest time as well as finances into vocation ministries. 

We closed the vocations workshop with Mass, which was offered by a Redemptorist priest. As we shared with one another, we gave thanks to God for our own vocation and the renewed strength and hope we bring to it. We invite you all to spend energy in  vocation/formation ministries in order to continue the mission entrusted to us.

Sisters of the Good Shepherd are committed to vocations in support of both their apostolic and contemplative lifestyles.

Elizabeth Garciano

Elizabeth Garciano

Sister Elizabeth Garciano was the Local Leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis, Missouri, before taking her sabbatical year as a pilgrim. She also served as Vocations Director for the Contemplative Good Shepherd Sisters in the Province of Mid-North America.