Vocations initiative to be launched at Worth Abbey

 A new project to support young people interested in finding their vocation is being launched at Worth Abbey in West Sussex next Saturday. The pilot scheme: 'COMPASS' invites men and women aged 20-35 who believe they may have a call to religious life to spend one weekend a month for nine months at a house in the grounds of the Benedictine monastery. The first group of six begins in October. They will receive spiritual direction, learn about religious life and listen to their call in the company of other young people. The programme runs until the following May and will also offer two residential weeks during that period. The Abbot of Worth, Fr Christopher Jamison, says he believes it is time Catholics stopped lamenting the decline in religious vocations and begin creating a new culture of vocation in the Church. He said: "We have to start asking what are we doing to create a culture in which everybody sees that God is calling to them in different ways." COMPASS will introduce young people to the varieties of religious life. "Young Catholics in a previous era would have had a nun as a primary teacher, an uncle who was a Franciscan, a Jesuit giving them a retreat, but almost all of those cultural connections have evaporated," Abbot Christopher said. "Most young Catholics don't know a Jesuit from an Assumptionist. As well as discernment, there is a sheer task of information." The programme is supported and funded by a variety of religious orders including the Salesians, the Congregation of Jesus (formerly the IBVM), the Capuchin Friars, the Vocation Sisters and the Josephites. The programme is led by Ursuline Sister Anne Spilberg, and a monk of Worth Abbey, Fr Luke Jolly. The course is designed to help people hear the call of God and is based on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the programme for people wanting to join the Catholic Church. Fr Luke describes it as "a journey of listening to the promise God has made me, and how I can respond". "Many young people now interested in religious life dropped out of the church as teenagers, so confirmation can be included as part of the programme," Fr Luke said. COMPASS is the fruit of long reflection on why young people find it hard to take the first step. "We have discovered young people are still being called by God to the religious life but do not feel able to take the big step of asking to join a novitiate," Sr Anne said. "We are providing a stepping stone on to which they can step easily without any disruption to their ordinary lives or careers." The Compass website which will also be launched on 1 May is: www.compass-points.org.uk The Worth Abbey website is at: www.worth.org.uk

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