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Thursday, December 8, 2016
Manga-style cartoons used in new vocations drive
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¬†Young and old alike are still being called to religious life and priesthood today, says the Catholic Church's Vocations Office for England and Wales. As the Church gets ready to launch this year's campaign to raise awareness about priesthood and religious life next Sunday, it has also released statistics showing four year-on-year increases in the number of men coming forward to the priesthood. The Church has also stepped into new territory, using Japanese Manga style cartoon characters in its new posters, representing priesthood and religious life. This has been done with the aim of specifically attracting a teenage and twenty-something audience. "We want young people to be aware that this could be them in years to come" says the Director of the National Office for Vocation, Father Paul Embery. "Many of those who are priests and religious today will tell you that they first considered these vocations when they were in their teens or in some cases earlier". The poster has already gone out to nearly 5000 churches, schools and chaplaincies up and down the country. 29 April - this year's Vocation Sunday - will also see the launch of www.calledtoday.com/ ≠ a website dedicated to exploring the vocations depicted in the poster. In cartoon strip style, visitors to the site can take a closer look at the lives of each of the five 'Manga' characters ≠ who are not fictitious, but actually real people, with real stories to tell ≠ testimonies from a priest, two nuns, a monk and a lay brother can be read online. "Cartoons, particularly Manga-styled ones, are a good way of reaching young people, even up to the age of 25," says Father Embery. "We want more young people to consider the call to priesthood and religious life, whilst at the same time acknowledging that many more people are making commitments later in life. We have a 'both-and' rather than 'either-or' policy, as we recognise that older candidates bring different life experiences with them." Statistics to be seen by Catholic bishops at their annual conference this week reveal another rise in the number of men applying for the priesthood in England and Wales last year. This is the fourth successive year that the number of those entering seminary has increased. In 2003 the figure stood at 28; last year this had risen to 44. Father Paul Embery welcomes the rise, but is cautious about being overly optimistic. "After several decades of decline in the number of those training for the priesthood, we have seen four consecutive years of growth, which is good news; however we have no guarantee that this growth will continue". He added, "After Pope John Paul II died we saw an increase of interest not only in the priesthood but Catholic life in general. The challenge for the Church is to recognise this and build on it." Significantly major cities, such as London, have seen the largest increase in applicants - cities which have also experienced a parallel growth in the number of those joining the Church. There are now 150 men training to be priests for the dioceses of England and Wales. The recent influx from EU accession states such as Poland has boosted the Church's numbers in the last few years, but according to Fr Embery, as yet there has not been a large number of applications for priesthood or religious life from these groups. "I think that when people first arrive in a country it takes some time to orientate oneself to the new culture, including the local Church. Maybe in future years some of those who have moved to the United Kingdom might feel God calling them to serve as a priest or religious here." Source: NOV
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