A Sense of Vocation? The National Office for Vocation is being launched this Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Director Fr Kevin Dring explains some of the thought and background to the establishment of this new office of the Bishops' Conference. "The vocation is the providential thought of the Creator for each creature, it is his idea-plan, like a dream found in God's heart, because the creature is found in God's heart. God the Father wants this to be different and specific for each living person." [IVT 13] A reasonable question would be WHY a National Office? Is it just another bureaucratic layer? The decision in fact came after a long process of consultation began by the late Cardinal Hume and reflects the more recent practice of other European countries. It began back in November 1990 with the setting-up of a national service to promote priestly vocations: the Diocesan Vocations Service of England & Wales. In 1997, however, a key document was issued from Rome entitled 'New Vocations for a New Europe' [In Verbo Tuo] which in effect relocated all vocation promotion work within a vision which sees the very nature of the Church itself as vocational: the community of 'the called' that exists 'to call'. In summary the 'vision' that permeates 'In Verbo Tuo', and therefore the National Office, would be thus: The nature of the Church is essentially vocational and all pastoral work must express this fact, seeking to build a stronger 'culture of vocation' and every member of the Church is thus a promoter of vocation: "In a certain sense, vocation defines the deepest being of the Church, even before her workshe is truly an assembly of those called every member of the Church, excluding no-one, has a responsibility of caring for vocations". [IVT 25] We all share in the common call to holiness through our Baptism, a call that is uniquely experienced by each individual and from which flows the particular vocations that make up the life of the Church: "There are those who fear that widening the idea of vocation will be harmful to the specific promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life; the reality is exactly the opposite" .[IVT 26] "Holiness is the universal vocation of every person, it is the main road onto which converge all the little paths that are particular vocations". [IVT 18] The National Office for Vocation has a wide brief, that includes the building of a stronger 'culture of vocation' in the Church as well as working alongside others to promote the particular vocations [marriage, single life, ordained ministry and consecrated life]. Very important will be the experience of meeting and listening to all those who, in the broadest sense, work in 'vocation promotion'. We will also, in a particular way, take on supporting and co-ordinating the Diocesan priestly vocations work . We all know how hard it is to move 'vocation' talk away from almost singular focus on the ordained priesthood and consecrated life. There's no doubt that these vocations lie at the heart of the life of the Church but our biggest challenge is to convey in a meaningful and practical sense the fact of every person's vocation and the implications of this for the life of the community. The work of the National Office for Vocation will of course only bear fruit if we place it firmly in the care and guidance of the Holy Spirit. So please pray for this new initiative and those who work in it! A final word from In Verbo Tuo: "The vocational crisis of those called is also a crisis, today, of those calling. If no-one calls, how can anyone respond?" [IVT 19] For more information visit: http://www.ukvocation.org
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