The role of teachers in the formation of young people, including vocational discernment, was one of the items discussed by the Diocesan Vocations Directors for Priesthood at their annual conference, which was held at the Royal English College at Valladolid in Spain at the end of November. The Vocations Directors recognised that teachers are often in a privileged position when it comes to helping young people to discern their future and to recognise the call of God in their lives. To do this effectively, teachers need to recognise their own life-vocation as Christian educators. Speaking on behalf of the Vocation Directors who attended the conference, Fr. Paul Embery from the National Office for Vocation said, "We need to place greater emphasis on naming and celebrating teaching as a vocation, so that teachers are affirmed in the great work they do in our schools. Only if they are positive about their own life-calling can they adequately convey a sense of vocation to those whom they educate." The Vocations Directors also recognised how difficult it is for many schools to recruit teachers who have a strong faith commitment. They expressed a desire that those who train teachers would encourage their students to see the profession they are entering as a vocation and also as one that involves helping young people in their own vocational discernment. "We have some good Catholic teacher training colleges. They have an important role to play in helping future teachers to appreciate the Church's understanding of personal vocation in the context of 'the universal call to holiness' as presented by the Second Vatican Council." said Father Embery. Other issues discussed at the conference included the Cumberlege Report on safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults and also the increase in numbers of those entering priestly formation in recent years. The Vocations Directors were also upbeat regarding the increasing number of vocations promotion and discernment initiatives that many dioceses are currently developing. Next year's conference will be held at Ushaw College in Durham which celebrates its bi-centenary in 2008.
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