Since signing up as a participating on behalf of our Brothers as a congregation on the American VISION Vocation Match service, managed by the American National Office for Vocations I have received a regular flow of questionnaires sent by people throughout the US, as well as from further afield, including some from near us here in the north of England. On top of this I seem to also be receiving more frequent requests for information about our congregation from people who stumble across this blog or my website (that links to this blog but which I have now neglected updating for some time).
About 9 months ago a group of female and male religious congregation representatives in the north-west of England came together to discuss how we might collaborate more closely in terms of vocation ministry. These discussions bore fruit in an informal "come + see" type day for young adults, religious and priests to come together for discussion, sharing, workshops, Mass, etc... This "Living Joyfully" day was hosted by St. Anne's Parish, Toxteth in the centre of Liverpool and will hopefully soon be touring around the archdiocese as a kind of vocations roadshow. Similar initiatives are appearing up and down the country as religious and priests are taking to heart the words of Pope Francis and are seeking to share with others the joy that they experience through serving God and his people.
Another fruit of the aforementioned discussions was the launch of a "Vocations Network North-West" page on Facebook as a means of sharing information about vocations-related events and resources for reflexion. The network's core group and a larger group of interested religious and priests now meet in Liverpool on a regular basis. Our next meetings in a couple of weeks will see us formalising plans for various initiatives relating to the forthcoming Year of Consecrated Life.
Inspired by the leadership and encouragement of the National Office for Vocations in London, led by Fr. Christopher Jamison and Sr. Cathy Jones, religious from different congregations are coming together to lead discernment groups for young adults on Cardinal Martini's "Samuel" groups model.
The below photo and article from the Catholic press relates to a day for young adult Catholics at the Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool on Nov. 1st, Embrace, organised by a 21 year-old student, John Griffin. He hopes to gather together 3,000 young people. I am part of the music ministry team for the event.
All this to say that there is reason for hope, not only for current congregations and the secular priesthood, but also that new founders will rise up from this generation to revive the Church. The leader of the largest charismatic prayer group here in Liverpool, Myles Dempsey of the Prince of Peace Community, is currently setting up a small group of mentors to support young future "leaders" such as this young man and has also set aside Friday evenings for a new prayer group especially for the young adults working with John to prepare for Embrace. It will have a strong Praise & Worship element.
May God bless this generation. May they rise up and inspire the Church, leading us into the future with hope and joy in their hearts.