1. The Congregation
105. Since the time of Fr. Claret there has always been a clear awareness in the Congregation that promoting new vocations was a priority commitment of all its members. Our Superiors General have kept insisting on this co-responsibility.128 Our current documents remind us that all Claretians are responsible for vocation ministry. This co-responsibility is expressed not only in the work and organization of vocation ministry, but also in our enjoyment of our own vocation, in our desire to share it with others, in our prayer for vocations and in the witness of our missionary life.129 Moreover, the 23rd General Chapter has asked that particular attention should be paid to the challenge of vocations in the process of revision of Organisms and positions and in policies for foundations and assignments.130
106. In our time, vocation ministry has also become an urgent matter because of the alarming vocational situation in several major organisms of the Congregation.131 This is the result of the lack of a vocational culture132 and of internal factors, such as the lack of candidates in major organisms that have traditionally had abundant vocations, the number of departures and defections, as well as the marked hesitancy that many Claretians show in proposing vocations to others and in welcoming and accompanying candidates.
2. Major Organisms
107. Major organisms (called “major institutes” in the latest English version of the CC) are corporate communities that share in the universal mission of the Congregation in an orderly way and serve as a bond of its union and communion.133 In order to achieve these objectives, they should be endowed with sufficient personal and organizational resources. Hence, each organism should take care of its vocation ministry, since this will condition not only its own present and future, but also that of the whole Congregation.
108. All of these major organisms or institutes have the right and duty to admit and form their own members, both for the organisms themselves and for the Congregation. All organisms, especially those affected by a lack of growth, are called to foster and form native vocations as a primordial task.134 They should avoid questionable means for solving this lack, such as importing vocations.135
109. Vocation ministry must also be included in the sphere of interprovincial collaboration, which should be strengthened on all levels,136 particularly in areas where there are greater possibilities for vocations, seeing to it that they do not lack the necessary means for their formation, both in personnel and in economy.
110. The Superior General must assume ultimate responsibility for vocation ministry, since it is one of his duties to see to the conservation and growth of the Congregation and to promote vocations everywhere.137
111. The General Prefecture of Formation, in communion and collaboration with the Superior General, is likewise responsible for animating and coordinating vocation ministry in the Congregation and in the different Provinces, and for keeping the Congregation informed about the experiences, successes and difficulties in this field.138
112. Major superiors are responsible for vocation ministry in the provincial sphere. Their duties are as follows:
1º. To strive to make the whole province conscious of and involved in promoting vocations.139
2º. To show a personal concern in promoting and conserving vocations for the Congregation,140 by availing themselves of all the useful resources that human sciences offer.141
3º. To see to it that a close relationship exists between vocation ministry and other provincial structures (prefectures, commissions…), especially those of youth ministry, formation and apostolate.142
4º. To be concerned, along with other major superiors, in drafting joint plans for promoting vocations and creating effective structures for collaboration and promotion within their zone.143
5º. To see to it that the vocation ministry of the Organism remains in close accord and relationship with that of the Bishops and those in charge of local Churches, as a sign of communion.144
113. Local superiors should undertake within their community the immediate responsibility for animating vocations.145
4. The Provincial Animator
114. The specific and direct work of the pastoral management of vocations is a true ministry. The person who performs this work is called not only to animate vocations, but also to sow, accompany, educate, form and discern them.146 Because of its importance and scope, this vocation ministry requires specific training on how to effectively present life as a vocation and to illustrate the meaning and worth of different vocations.147
115. All Provinces and, if possible, all Independent Delegations, should have at least one Claretian devoted full-time to vocation ministry.148 Those appointed to vocation ministry should the ones best equipped for it, in keeping with the custom in the Congregation.149 This service should be provided with suitable facilities. Its autonomy, and the competencies that its mission requires, should be recognized, as well as its responsibility to be coordinated with the different pastoral agents of the Organism, thus preventing it from becoming an isolated ministry or some sort of parallel pastoral action.
116. Besides deep faith, missionary enthusiasm, heartfelt love for the Congregation and a strong sense of belonging to it, the provincial animator must have some special aptitudes, especially the following:150
1º. Vocational maturity, since only one who values his own vocation and lives it joyfully, as a gift from God, will be able to radiate it.
2º. Consistency of life, so that by his attitudes he can spur on those who feel called by the Lord.
3º. The ability to orient young men in progressively discerning their vocation.
4º. Trust in the spiritual and vocational possibilities of the young.
5º. Ease in getting in tune with young people, and the ability to orient their various kinds of restlessness and uncertainty.
6º. Psychological, pedagogical, religious and spiritual competency, in order to be able to help candidates adequately.
117. The provincial animator’s functions are as follows:151
1º. Together with the Province’s vocation ministry team, to program, carry out and evaluate ordinary activities.
2º. To awaken in all of the Organism’s communities and apostolic positions a sense of vocational responsibility, spurring them on to make a commitment in vocation ministry and in welcoming vocations. For this, he must:
a) Coordinate the province’s team for vocation ministry.
b) Organize and/or participate in activities of vocation ministry.
c) Organize and coordinate the reception of vocations in its non-institutionalized forms (those in charge, reports, places, dynamics, etc.)
d) Visit the province’s communities and apostolic positions in order to animate their vocation ministry.
e) Keep in frequent communication with the Formation Team.
f) Coordinate with other animators of vocation ministry in the local Church and become involved in common plans.
3º. To coordinate or carry out, as the case may be, the accompaniment of candidates in their process of discernment, testing and selection, seeing to it that those involved in this process maintain the necessary continuity of criteria and guidelines.
4º. To link selected candidates with some Minor Seminary or Welcoming Center of the Major Organism or of the Congregation.
5º. To keep the Province informed on the criteria and activities of vocation ministry.
5. The Provincial Team
118. Each Province and, if possible, all Independent Delegations, should have at least one Claretian Vocation Ministry Team, whose task is to plan and animate the vocation ministry of the whole Province or Delegation, in coordination with youth ministry.152
119. The Team will be made up of the Provincial Animator of Vocation Ministry and representatives of youth ministry vocation ministry, among whom it would be fitting to have a Brother, and of formators. The Provincial Vocation Ministry Team will seek the collaboration of laity, religious, members of the Claretian Family and the vocation ministry teams of other Provinces.153
5.3. Mission and Functions
120. In general, the mission of the Team is to promote vocations for the whole Church and, in particular, for our Claretian Family.154 Among its concrete functions, the following one stands out:
1) Drafting the Vocation Project of the Major organism.
121. This project should take into account the relevant socioreligious data and necessary statistics, the effectiveness of means adapted and their coordination with the Church, the General Plan of Formation and the Claretian Vocation Directory.155
122. Among the criteria for drafting vocation project, the following stand out:
1º. It is fitting that all members of the Organism and the agents collaborating with them should be involved drafting it, since the Vocation Project is not unrelated to any person or any apostolic activity.
2º. It is necessary for the project to be in accord with the other pastoral projects of the province, especially with its pastoral project for children, adolescents and young adults, so that it will not be isolated from, parallel to or superimposed on them.
3º. It should assume—always based on reality—the theoretical framework of Claretian vocation ministry, determining all the necessary ecclesial, charismatic, pedagogical and pastoral aspects.
2) Stimulating Participation
123. Raising vocational awareness in all spheres family, educational, pastoral and social- in line with the creation of a vocational culture.
124. Multiplying agents of vocation ministry in our communities and apostolic positions.
125. Incorporating not only members of the Claretian Family, but also the laity, in our vocational work.156
3) Dynamizing the Organization of Vocation Ministry
126. Orienting Claretian vocation ministry of the Organism by means of:
1º. Adequate formation activities: meetings for its members, short courses and days organized for others.
2º. Visits to Claretian communities, so that each of them can study their possibilities regarding vocation ministry.
3º. Studying how to highlight within the whole Pastoral process (for children, adolescents and young adults) the most fitting vocational aspects that each stage or level may implicitly contain, with a view to enlarge them with vocational contents in catechesis and other pastoral activities.
4º. Organizing short courses for agents of vocation ministry on how to orient Claretian vocation ministry in the present circumstances.
127. Promoting and coordinating Claretian vocation ministry through:
1º. Suitable contacts with the different preferred recipients of the provincial vocation ministry project, in order to promote and better coordinate Claretian vocation ministry in each place.
2º. Holding the encounters that have been set in the vocation ministry project on the provincial level and occasionally with other branches of the Claretian Family, or other encounters that are deemed suitable.
3º. Getting acquainted with candidates who have vocational leanings and with their process of discernment, in order to offer them the greatest possible help by means of activities already planned for them or of other activities that are deemed opportune.
4) Animating and accompanying individuals and groups.
128. 1º. Actively seeking candidates for the Congregation in a context of vocational co-responsibility of the local Church and the whole Province, instead of just hoping that they will come.
2º. Providing those in charge of vocation ministry and its recipients with the channels, resources and helps that they need in order to carry out this project.
3º. Offering specific materials on vocation ministry for the different forms of Claretian life (brothers, deacons and priests), so that each of these vocational proposals may appear with full clarity.157
4º. Dialoguing personally with the pastoral agents accompanying those who are called, in order to reach a more enlightened discernment of these supposed vocations.
5º. Fostering groups for following, prayer, reading the Word of God and vocational discernment. Experience shows that these groups are incalculably helpful in clarifying the vocation of each person called. But these groups can by no means take the place of personal accompaniment.158
6º. Carrying out vocation ministry jointly with candidates of both sexes, taking into account their reciprocal differences, clearly stressing their masculine and feminine accents, and, especially for girls, providing channels for making contacts with orders, institutes an religious congregations that might be in accord with the resonances of the call they perceive.
5) Helping in the Personal Discernment of a Vocation
129. 1º. Designating one member of the Team to be directly responsible for the accompaniment and discernment of the candidates.
2º. Attentively, personally and regularly following those candidates who may be opting for the Claretian vocation and desire to begin or have already begun the process of preparation to enter a formation center.
3º. Carrying out the vocational accompaniment of candidates in their phases of clarification and decision making, always in relationship and collaboration with those in charge of vocation ministry of the Institution for which the candidates have opted, handing over to these agents the main role of accompaniment when the candidates have made their final decision to enter.
4º. Presenting the candidates at the time they enter the Minor Seminary or Reception Center.159
6) Periodically Evaluating Vocation Ministry
130. The Vocation Ministry Team should periodically evaluate the functioning and validity of its work on the basis of the criteria contained in its project. It belongs to the Provincial Government to opportunely evaluate the work of the Vocation Ministry Team.160
6. Local Communities
131. The local community is the milieu in which the shared project of Claretian life and ministry is lived. On it falls the responsibility for keeping alive and perpetuating the charism we have inherited. Hence each community must set up how it ought to organize its life in order to be a vocational community. Both in its life and in its action it must be concerned with raising up and accompanying new vocations to continue its mission. Its task of animating vocations ought to run in two directions:
1º. One, a permanent direction, consists of launching vocational invitations in a continual fashion to all who come in contact with the community and with each of its members.
2º. The other, a planned direction, consists of dedicating persons, times and resources for carrying out pertinent vocational actions. In this sphere the local community should determine in its programming the great vocational tasks, such as praying for, working for and welcoming vocations.161
6.1. Designating a vocation animator
132. Each community will designate one of its members to carry out the service of animating vocations within the proper sphere of the community.162 His functions will be:
4. To be specifically formed in order to carry out his mission better:
1º. Taking part in one or more formation courses specifically programmed by the Provincial Vocation Ministry Team or by some other Institution of the Congregation or the Church.
2º. Relying on the necessary resources for specific formation (specialized literature, catechetical materials, etc.) and for performing vocational activities (programs, times, etc,).
3º. Working to awaken and accompany candidates as a vocational minister. This ministry entails five commitments: sowing, accompanying, educating, forming and discerning.163
3º. Involving the members of his community to do vocation ministry and to coordinate its action in keeping with the community’s programming.
4º. Making contact with different agents involved in vocation ministry in order to offer a work in coordination with the Provincial Vocation Ministry Team, with the families of candidates, and with their pastoral agents and educators.
6.2. Programming Prayer for Vocations
133. The local community will find in its prayer –personal and community prayer and especially liturgical prayer—the first and irreplaceable service164 to the work of vocations. Far from being an easy way out of dealing with the problem of raising and accompanying vocations, it is a commitment that the community itself must undertake in order to grasp the meaning of this prayer and so organize it that it becomes a living ministry on behalf of vocations.
134. This animation of prayer, besides its being addressed to the Lord of the Harvest to send vocations to his Church, also has a repercussion on animating or re-animating the vocation of each member of the praying community. And it should also help them to discern the meaning of the scarcity of vocation in gospel terms, to avoid the temptation to nostalgia, to disenchantment and to merely numerical considerations, and lead them to put their trust in the Lord of History.165
135. In its community planning, the local community should design the concrete organization of its prayer for vocations with the following criteria in mind:
1º. Daily frequency.
2º. Intention for all vocations, especially Claretian vocations.
3º. The use of prayer forms and celebrations set by the Church and the Congregation.
4º. The presence of Mary, Mother of the Congregation.
5º. Their Claretian character.
6º. Thanksgiving, offering and petitions.
136. Besides the activities proposed in this Directory,166 the following concrete initiatives are suggested for the local community:
1º. To pray daily at Lauds or Vespers for vocations in general and for Claretian vocations in particular.
2º. To make use of the Claretian prayer book or of other prayers composed for this purpose, and also of spontaneous prayers.
3º. To invite elderly, infirm or disabled Claretians to pray and to offer their sufferings to God for vocations.
4º. To restore the tradition, dating back to Fr. Claret, that prayer for vocations should be offered in a particular way in all our novitiates.167
6.3. Cooperating in the activities of vocation ministry
137. Each community will plan the vocation ministry that is best suited to its life and mission, in keeping with the following guidelines:
1º. Assume the criteria established by the province’s vocation ministry project and translate them into operative actions of the community itself.
2º. Take advantage of the community’s own apostolic activities in order to channel them within the vocation actions that its members can carry out, starting with what is simple and possible.
3º. Remind the missionaries in charge of the different apostolic positions that they are responsible for Claretian vocation ministry within the framework of their competency.
4º. Animate and stir all members of the community to become involved in the vocation activities that are determined.
5º. Discern the community’s apostolic priorities and put them in order, always safeguarding its vocational task.
6º. Reinforce and update the pastoral formation of the Claretians in the area of vocation ministry.
7º. Animate and especially back those activities which the community is carrying out with Christian groups that are following a process of Christian initiation.
8º. Consolidate the figure of the local animator of vocation ministry by establishing his functions in community planning and by caring for his preparation.
9º. Favor the task proper of the local animator of vocation ministry, which does not mean replacing or annulling the responsibility of the other members of the community in animating vocations.
6.4. Promoting activities to make the Congregation better known
138. The knowledge and experience of our charism are elements that serve and ought to help in stirring up and clarifying vocations. Hence, the whole community should program and promote activities aimed at doing this:168
1º. By striving to be of itself a sign-place, making its witness of missionary life the best means to make the Congregation known and to awaken possible candidates.
2º. By trying, moreover, to be a pedagogical-place that helps candidates to make a vocational decision.
3º. By presenting with faith, joy and boldness, a vocational proposal to possible candidates who show more-or-less clear signs of a vocation, such as a spirit of prayer, generosity, service and work, evangelical commitment, a search for a mission in society and the Church, and other signs.
5. By employing the means of propaganda and helps offered by the Provincial Vocation Ministry Team for promoting vocations in general.
6.5. Welcoming vocations
139. Claretian communities can invite and should receive candidates who want to experience our Claretian life. Although not all communities are welcoming communities, all of them ought to open their doors to possible candidates. In them, one should be able to breathe an air of joy, cordiality and missionary enthusiasm.169
140. The attitude of welcome implies that the Claretian community is a renewed community, sure of its own identity and happy to bear witness to our own charism. The community that lives the gospel, prays, manifests its happiness, shows that it is a place of welcome, helps the poor and remains faithful to Claretian charism, is the kind of place than many young people are searching for today.
141. Fundamentally, welcoming implies treating others as persons.170 Candidates make contact with persons who have a shared project of life and mission. Their relationship is with a community, not with a building or an enterprise.171 To stimulate the welcoming of vocations, it is fitting for us:
1º. To invite candidates on certain occasions to share in community prayer or in some Congregational activities or events.
2º. To offer them an opportunity to collaborate is some way with the community in liturgical and apostolic actions.
3º. To provide them with the most adequate materials to help them in furthering their knowledge and clarifying their possible vocation.
4º. To put them in contact, when the moment comes, with those in charge of the provincial vocation ministry of the different branches of the Claretian Family, depending on each case and on the vocational option they may be making.
5º. To create and maintain in all members of the community a good climate of openness, respect, attention and nearness to the candidate.
6º. To evaluate the community’s capacity for proposing and welcoming vocations by verifying, over and above their prayer, life and work, the quality of their interpersonal relationships and the flexibility of the way the community is structured. Both are the fundamental sphere for welcoming and helping a vocation to grow.172