Thursday, 10 July 2003

Warsaw (Fides Service) –“The integration of the New Vocations Ministry into the broader structures of pastoral life” was the theme of the Annual Meeting of the European Vocations Service (EVS) held in Warsaw 2-6 July 2003 attended by 65 delegates including 12 bishops. We summarise below an EVS News Release on July 7 from Fribourg/St Gallen in Switzerland.
At the start of the five-day Conference, Archbishop Alois Kothgasser (EVS President, and CCEE Bishop Delegate for vocations ministry) greeted about 65 participants, including 12 Bishops, emphasising that the integration of the vocations ministry into the broader structures of pastoral life is not something artificial; vocations ministry “is born and grows naturally alongside (…) ordinary pastoral structures”. Bishop Stefan Regmunt (Legnica, Poland) also spoke about the unity between vocations ministry and the broader structures of pastoral life. Referring to vocations in Poland, he noted the positive fact of the continued growth in the number of priests. However, the Polish Bishops are concerned about demographic developments which will certainly affect future numbers of priests and religious. In order to maintain a sufficient number of priests and religious, Bishop Regmunt said it is important that vocations ministry be closely linked to the programme of the new evangelisation.
On the third day of the Conference, participants discussed 2 Talks given by Professor Amedeo Cencini (Rome) (I. Essential elements of a renewed vocations ministry, II. Practical application to the broader structures of pastoral life). He spoke of the essential elements of a renewed vocations ministry, stressing that a pastoral strategy that is not vocational is not really pastoral and will not be effective. Every member of the Church has his or her own calling, and part of that is to help others to discover their place in the Church. It is worth noting that the participants in the Congress work to foster ecclesial vocations of all types.
On the last day of the Conference there was a pilgrimage to the shrine so dear to the people of Poland, the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, where Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski (Rome) presided at the celebration of Mass. Referring to John Paul II’s recent encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Cardinal affirmed that the Eucharist is “the summit and source of the vocations ministry”, focusing on vocations to the priesthood. Administrative matters were dealt with on Sunday morning. Fr Kevin Doran (Dublin, Ireland) was unanimously elected to succeed Mgr. (…) Rainer Birkenmaier (Fribourg, Germany) as EVS Co-ordinator. SL (Fides Service 10/7/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)