Lisa Gutierrez offers a nice feature on yesterday’s Faith page in the Kansas City Star.
The posters we get and post all over our parish campus are a small part of what vocation efforts can and should do.
Some vocation groups are still stuck with a sense of entitlement. In other words, they think full seminaries and houses of religious formation are a right, a badge of success, and something they have coming to them as a reward.
In truth, the Church fails by ignoring the possibliities of fostering a Catholic culture. Vocations were booming in the 20th century, peaking in 1947, and trailing off since then. It matches the advent of the GI Bill, the growth of suburbia, tv, mobility, and post-WWII consumerism.
Lots of young people emerge from college today with a desire to serve. What the Church doesn’t provide is an environment of discernment. It doesn’t come in parishes. I don’t see really creative efforts from the official groups. Once a person is in seminary or religious life formation, there’s the traditional support. Few clergy are involved in efforts–real efforts I mean–to promote vocations. Three people in my young adulthood urged me to consider a vocation. They were all lay people.
So yes, as long as these posters reflect an underlying attitude of openness and creativity in vocation efforts, I applaud them. But the real work is in the one-on-one discernment. And for that we need people who will be real spiritual directors and mentors with people who are already formed in an attitude of service in a vibrant lay apostolate.