An international vocations conference in Auckland, New Zealand, has been told that young men are again joining the Christian Brothers after a gap of many years. Brother Paul Robertson has told the Conference that a number of young men have joined the Brothers in both New Zealand and the United States in recent times. He said: "We see a change coming in the first world countries. As secularization increases, more and more young people are searching for something spiritually deep and challenging". The conference, entitled 'Called to a Deeper Journey', is being facilitated by Presentation Sister Anne O'Leary, Assistant Professor of New Testament at St Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas. Lectures on the global, theological and human context of contemporary vocations ministry are being given by Sister Gemma Simmonds of the Congregation of Jesus, who lectures in pastoral theology and spirituality at Heythrop College, University of London. Participants are drawn from the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers network in England, Ireland and North America as well as Australia and New Zealand. Both Congregations were founded by Blessed Edmund Rice. Brother Robertson noted that the Brothers were attracting many new members in the countries of the developing world but that there were significant new challenges in vocations ministry in the so-called 'first world'. A significant feature of the gathering has been the attendance of young lay women and men who work with the Brothers in educational and other ministries. Katherine Barry, a primary school teacher who works with the Presentation Brothers in Ireland, speaks of the need for lay people to help the Congregations in attracting new Brothers. "We love being part of the Brothers network. They are fantastic people with a great sense of mission in the world today. We want to see new Brothers so we've all got to take responsibility for encouraging vocations."
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