The work of promoting vocations in Venezuela is bearing fruit. This year, despite the full social and economic crisis that the country is going through, aggravated by the pandemic situation caused by Covid-19, the vocational response to the ministerial life of priesthood has increased, with a total number of 804 seminarians, including young people who are in the preparatory phase or are studying philosophy and theology, reported Fides News Agency.
As reported by the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, the various diocesan seminaries have tried to strengthen the spiritual discernment among young people through activities to promote vocational pastoral care so that they can study in-depth the call of God in their lives. Of the 21 existing seminaries in the country (including three propaedeutic seminaries), 186 students are currently in preparation; 328 study philosophy and 290 theology.
As Fr. Rivelino Cáceres, Director of the Department of Clergy, Seminaries, Vocations and Permanent Diaconate emphasizes, by following the guidelines of the new Ratio Fundamentalis, “once theology studies are completed, a year of pastoral experience is carried out in a parish, under the guidance of the parish priest and of a team of seminary formators, which lasts about a year, after which the priestly ordination takes place”. Currently, 7 seminarians are in this process, while 2 are on mission, an experience proposed by the Seminaries of the Neocatechumenal Way.
Although the number of candidates for the priesthood in Venezuela has increased this year, the Bishops’ Conference continues, more vocations are needed to address the country’s shortage of priests, especially in the most remote areas and in the peripheries. For this reason, Pope Francis entrusted the Diocese of San Cristóbal with pastoral care in the Apostolic Vicariate Caroní. This Vicariate is one of the areas with the greatest difficulties in accessing and communicating in Venezuela.
Therefore missionaries and above all priests are needed who guarantee the sacramental life of the communities living there. However, the increase in indigenous vocations in every region is a good sign. In the Apostolic Vicariate of Caroní, there are currently 5 seminarians from the Pemon people, one of whom is about to be ordained a deacon and the other students are of philosophy and theology. There was already an indigenous seminary in the 1930s, but it had to close due to a lack of vocations.