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“Culture of Vocation”- Alive and Well in Canada...

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In 2018 the board of NAVFD (National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors) commissioned a research project entitled, “Recent Vocations to Religious Life in Canada”. Upon completion of the report, present and past board members in three cities across Canada were asked to host focus groups to “drill down” into the report in order to discover the “reason for our hope”.

Edmonton was one of the cities privileged to host a gathering which took place on November 30th, feast of St. Andrew. The Gospel of the day, John’s account of the call of the disciples, created a perfect setting for our day. After the proclamation of the Gospel, by a young Sister of Providence, who professed her first vows two weeks earlier, we “broke open the Word of God”. Several participants echoed how the Word resonated in their hearts and then we all united in singing out with joy, “God Has Chosen Me”.

The youthful enthusiasm and hope of the five newly professed professed among us, and the wisdom, honesty and insight of the more “seasoned” consecrated women and men, made for a profoundly enriching experience. Our congregation was very well represented by Ann, Catherine, Hazel, Mariangel and Mary Clare.

Vocation director, medical ethicist, spiritual companion and retreat director, Sr. Mary Rowell, CSJ in Canada, facilitated our day. Mary listened attentively to all that was said, offering encouragement as needed, and confirming us in our hope that consecrated life definitely has a future in Canada. At the end of the day Mary reaffirmed our conviction that God “reserves a future full of hope for us”, and invited the participants to name what we most need from the board in our efforts to continue nurturing God’s call to consecrated life in Canada. Three of the ideas that were shared are: 1) Financial support from the board so that more members, especially younger ones, can participate in conferences such as those sponsored by the NAVFD board, 2) To have Mary share the fruit of this research with our Congregational leaders during the forthcoming CRC (Conference of Religious of Canada) gathering, and 3) To ask Gerald Cardinal Lacroix and Thomas Cardinal Collins to ask their brother Bishops to ardently commit to encouraging women and men in Canada to sensitize their hearts to God’s call to consecrated life. One participant passionately reminded us that the voice of the poor, the people on the margins of society, our “Common Home”, await the response of generous women and men who will sow the seeds of love, of mercy, of compassion, of forgiveness, of hope and joy.

As a “take away” from the research report we are reminded: “If you hope to attract new vocations to your institute consider the following:

• Make vocation animation a priority from the top-and work to instill a ‘culture of vocation’ in institute members
• Be true to the charism of the institute, to community life and to communal prayer
• Be open to change.”