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A 'best practice' guide to priestly vocations
Pat Ryan, who is Irish and lives in the UK, collates the Vocations Best Practice Guide pages of a Canadian website, called www.queenofpeace.ca
This Best Practice Guide, which may be found at www.queenofpeace.ca/Vocations.htm, contains an amalgam of suggestions which Ryan has gleaned from the popes and saints together with the practices from dioceses in Australia and America notable for fostering vocations.
Mr Ryan plans to send a hard copy of these suggestions to each bishop in Australia and New Zealand in the near future.
The Best Practice Guide is subdivided into the roles of key people and institutions involved in fostering priestly vocations. For example, there is the bishop, who 'needs to be holy', with 'a lifestyle which imitates the poverty of Christ', who promotes the Sacrament of Penance, 'chooses a dedicated vocations director and his team with the greatest care', 'communicates to all that the priesthood is 'great and beautiful'' and 'checks to ensure seminarians are receiving correct and balanced formation'.
Catholic schools need to 'ensure that students are thoroughly and unapologetically educated in the authentic teaching of the Church' and 'every morning' see that teachers and students 'pray for vocations and for those in formation'. Teachers 'should be encouraged to mention the priesthood and religious life when discussing career development with students'.
The Director of Vocations needs to 'encourage special Masses for vocations throughout the diocese', 'share ideas with colleagues from other dioceses' and 'if possible speak in every parish about vocations to the priesthood during Sunday Mass.'
The parish clergy are 'all potential Associate Vocations Directors' and should 'never tire of nurturing vocations with prayer and example' and preach not 'what people want to hear, but what people need to hear'.
Parishioners, says Ryan, 'are reassured when they see their priests at prayer'. Priests should not help the trend towards 'taking God off the streets' by adopting secular modes of dress and behaviour and Eucharistic Adoration should be encouraged with prayers for vocations incorporated.
Families, of course, are a key factor. Ryan notes as important, recitation of the Rosary for vocations, sound catechesis in the home and attendance at Eucharistic Adoration.
Seminaries, he says, need to provide 'proper formation in chastity and celibacy' along with 'a solid and correct theological understanding of the Church and the priesthood' which 'is the personal responsibility of the bishop'. It is crucial to form 'mature and balanced personalities, men capable of establishing sound human and pastoral relationships, knowledgeable in theology, solid in the spiritual life and in love with the Church.'
Seminaries must 'proclaim that loyal submission of the will and intellect be given to the authentic teaching of the Pope even when he is not speaking ex cathedra' and 'never teach or endorse propositions contrary to the Ordinary Magisterium.'
These are just a few of the many suggestions which Pat Ryan has gathered together in his Best Practice Guide.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 19 No 11 (December 2006 - January 2007), p. 9
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