NATIONAL RELIGIOUS VOCATION CONFERENCE
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INTERNATIONAL VOCATION CONFERENCE SEES NEED FOR THEOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS LIFE AND SUPPORT FROM VATICAN AND BISHOPS’ CONFERENCES
STATEMENT FROM THE DELEGATES OUTLINES CONCERNS, SIGNS OF HOPE
Chicago –The International Vocation Conference a first-ever gathering of religious leaders and vocation ministers from major Western world vocation centers hosted by the Chicago-based National Religious Vocation Conference recently released a statement outlining their key concerns, including the need for a comprehensive theology of religious life, more collaboration between diocesan structures and religious institutes, a clear focal point for the promotion of vocations to the consecrated life within the Holy See, and renewal within their own religious institutes.
The statement, “Consecrated life at the very heart of the Church,” comes from the 16 delegates who gathered in Rome this past February for four days of discussion and deliberations, which included a meeting with Vatican officials from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Representing vocation conferences from Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, New
Zealand, and the United States, and leadership organizations, including the International Union of
Superiors General, the Union of Superiors General, and the Union of the European Conferences of Major Superiors, the group’s statement identifies areas of convergence in their vocation ministries, signs of hope in religious life, and opportunities for the future.
Areas of convergence
In their common experience of vocation ministry, the delegates find that those considering a religious vocation come from a “post-modern world where life and career choices are abundant, especially for women.” Candidates to religious life are “diverse in their age, culture and ethnic background, work and ministerial experience, and knowledge of the Catholic faith,” but they share a “desire to deepen their relationship with God through private and common prayer, to live the evangelical counsels, and to live in community.”
Further the group recognizes that though men and women continue to enter religious life, some communities receive no new members, and that fact along with “the aging and diminishment of membership and the strains of maintaining current ministerial commitments” can limit a congregation’s creative energy and initiatives.
Signs of hope
MARCH 31, 2015 MORE INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC VOCATION CONFERENCE, ROME, FEB. 23-27 PAGE 2
Signs of hope are found in the fact that “zealous, committed, and hopeful” people continue to inquire about religious life. The delegates see the diversity among religious institutes and within religious communities to be one of the greatest strengths of religious life, and they are encouraged by the growing support among laypeople for those in vocation ministry: “If religious life is a gift to the Church,” the delegates’ state, “then everyone in the Church must support and encourage it. We welcome our lay sisters and brothers as partners in this ministry.”
Opportunities for the future
Opportunities for the future specifically identified in the statement include a commitment to:
gather regularly and expand the group;
collaborate with the leaders of religious institutes and Vatican agencies; partner on vocation promotion for World Youth Day and other large youth gatherings; encourage the development of a comprehensive theology of religious life and better education of diocesan priests about the religious life; explore more effective uses of global communication in vocation ministry; work to create a culture of vocations among all the faithful; embrace the diversity of expressions of religious life; encourage all religious institutes to continue to promote and support religious life even if they have chosen no longer to accept new members; renew their own vocations and encourage renewal among members in their own institutes and organizations.
To read the full statement of the delegates or to find more information about the International Vocation Conference, go to nrvc.net. The gathering was made possible through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) was founded in 1988 as a professional organization of men and women committed to vocation awareness, invitation, and discernment to consecrated life as brothers, sisters, and priests. The NRVC has approximately 1,300 members, most of whom are vocation ministers for religious congregations. The NRVC serves its members by providing continuing education, resources, and services for professional growth.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in five priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, caring for vulnerable children, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants.