Prayer and Example Seen as Keys to Vocations

Conclusion of Annual Meeting of European Service

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WARSAW, Poland, JULY 11, 2003 ( Vocational pastoral care does not depend on false proselytism, but on prayer and the example of life of the consecrated, conferees said at a recent meeting here.

The focus of the annual meeting of the European Service for Vocations (ESV) was «The Integration of Vocational Pastoral Care in Ordinary Pastoral Structures.» The 65 participants included a dozen bishops from as many episcopal conferences, and national delegates of vocational offices and centers.

Addressing the gathering, Father Amadeo Cencini, a Gregorian University professor who is a psychologist and formator of religious, outlined the essential aspects of a renewed vocational pastoral care, emphasizing that a pastoral strategy that does not include the vocational dimension is not, in fact, a pastoral program and, therefore, cannot be effective.

The delegate of the Polish bishops echoed a similar theme. «If Europe is to have a future with a sufficient number of consecrated persons and priests — at present they number 208,659 — it is important that vocational pastoral care be closely integrated in the program of the new evangelization,» said Bishop Stefan Regmunt.

Cardinal Jozef Glemp, primate of Poland and archbishop of Warsaw, said various factors lead to new vocations, but the fundamental motive is the mystery «hidden in individual and family prayer, as well as in the lifestyle of priests.»

On the penultimate day of the July 2-6 meeting, during a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Czestochowa, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presided over Mass and referred to John Paul II’s encyclical «Ecclesia de Eucharistia,» affirming that the Eucharist is «the summit and source of vocational pastoral care.»

At the annual meeting, Irish delegate Father Kevin Doran was elected coordinator of ESV for three years. He replaced Rainer Birkenmaier of Germany. ESV is a federation of European national vocational services linked to the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.

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