Fostering a Culture of Vocation

Co-Creator of Vocationcast Speaks About Utilizing Modern Means of Communication

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, APRIL 19, 2012 ( In this modern era of mass media, Catholic communicators are given a vast array of readily accessible tools whereby they can effectively engage in the new evangelization, create a culture of vocation, and offer pastoral guidance to people all over the world.

At the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross’ recent communications seminar entitled «Faces, People, Stories,» held this week in Rome, Daniel Fitzpatrick, who is a fifth-year seminarian for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in England, presented a paper on Vocationcast, a podcast which seeks to foster a «culture of vocation» for all Christians who seek to know God’s will in their lives.

Fitzpatrick and his colleague, fellow-seminarian Frankie Mulgrew, are the two main presenters of Vocationcast.  Originally, the focus of the podcast was to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life; in September of 2011, the project came to be officially known as Vocationcast, expanding its focus to include themes pertaining to all Christian vocations. Vocationcast is supported by the National Office for Vocation of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference in England and Wales and the Bishop’s Conference communications department.

During his time in Rome for the PUSC communications conference, Fitzpatrick spoke with ZENIT about Vocationcast, the importance of promoting a culture of vocation, and the need for participating in the new evangelization.

ZENIT: How is the mission of Vocationcast relevant to the message of this particular conference?

Fitzpatrick: This conference is about communications, for communications directors in dioceses, so I presented my paper and gave the talk on Vocationcast just as an example of a project that can happen very easily. Like I said in the talk: very cheaply, with very few resources, you can put together a great resource and help promote vocations, or the new evangelization, catechesis, or anything you want, showing people that it can be easily done; and with the internet now, people can access it all over the world.

ZENIT: You had spoken in your talk about the culture of vocation. Could you explain this idea a bit further?

Fitzpatrick: I can only really speak from where I’m from in England, but I think if you said «vocation,» to somebody, they would automatically think of priesthood, religious life, consecrated life, [maybe] some might think of married life. But we want to try and foster the idea that vocation is for everybody, not just people who want to enter seminary, or a convent, or a monastery. God has called every single one of us to a specific purpose.

A culture of vocation would be a culture where people are thinking about their own vocation, about where God is calling them to be. Vocation goes hand-in-hand with being a Christian, [and is not just as something that’s extra if you want to take religion a bit more seriously.] It goes hand-in-hand with being a Christian because, if you’re going to be a Christian, then you have to serve God in some particular way.

We’re coming up to the new year [of Faith] that the Pope’s announced where there’s going to be a lot of emphasis on the new evangelization, and teaching people about the faith. We have to teach people that God has called [everyone] to do something special in life, and not just certain people.

ZENIT: You’ve had a variety of guests on your podcast speaking about vocations, not only priests and religious, but lay people as well. How do you decide who to interview for your program?

Fitzpatrick: We tend to have themes for each episode. For example, we had a theme on media, so we interviewed Catholics who are involved in the media. We had an episode a few months ago on politicians, so we interviewed politicians and Lords in the House of Lords in England, and Members of Parliament. The criteria is down to the theme. We might have a bit of an imbalance with priests, but I think that is because priests are mainly the ones out there trying to spread the message, so they’re easily accessible. And we’ve been looking to get some people from all of the world.

ZENIT: Could you speak about the format that you have chosen for each episode?

Fitzpatrick: We try to have a main interview with someone who’s prominent, or somebody who has a good story. We do that because people are familiar with that kind of format from main-stream media. And it gives us, myself and Frankie, a chance to interact with somebody, so we can ask them questions that we think our listeners might want to know.

We also have vocation stories and testimonies, and we think this is important because stories inspire; like we’ve heard at the Congress these last few days, it’s stories that inspire and not just facts. I think that’s true, that people’s lives inspire other people. I don’t think I know anyone who’s a Christian because someone told them a bunch of facts; they are Christian because other people have inspired them. That’s why we have testimonies.

We also have a time of prayer, of reflection, which will be some music and some prayer, and some words of inspiration. That’s just [to make it clear] that this is not just a radio episode: this is also prayer, this is also something we should be praying through.

ZENIT: How has this podcast helped you in your own journey of discernment?

Fiztpatrick: Really so much, because we’re putting ourselves in a position where we’re speaking to some amazing people because we’re going out looking for them. The testimonies that we’re getting from people we’re listening to first hand, and some of them are just amazing: they blow you away, just hearing how God has worked in people’s lives.

Also, the main interviews we try to get, prominent speakers, are people who are known for communication. For example, Fr. Cantalamessa, Fr. Robert Barron from America. We get a chance to sit down with these people and to talk to them about faith, and what other type of role would you get that opportunity to talk to some amazing people about the faith? When we ask them questions, therefore, we’re not just asking questions that we think our audience might like to hear, but we’re also asking questions that we’d like to hear the answers to as well. In that way, it has really helped us with our own vocations.

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