European Vocations Service Congress – St Patrick’s College, Maynooth
The annual Congress of the European Vocations Service (EVS)took place at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in Ireland, from 28 June – 1 July 2012.
Placing itself in close continuity with the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, which ended a few days ago, the theme examined was: “The Eucharist, source of every Christian vocation: communion, testimony, mission” (cf. In Verbo Tuo 17 d).
13 European nations were represented, as well as representation from the USA and Canada- Quebec.
Participants included Mgr Francis Bonnici, representative of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Mgr Alessandro Perrone, representative of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Fr Giovanni Péragine, president of UCESM; Fr Duarte da Cunha, CCEE General Secretary; and Mgr Italo Castellani, Archbishop of Lucca.
Also present on the first day of the Congress was the President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, His Eminence Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh; and the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Mgr Charles John Brown.
The meeting was chaired by the Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, Bishop Donal McKeown, Vocations delegate for the Irish Bishops’ Conference, and by the EVS Co-ordinator, Fr Jorge Madureira Soares.
The working atmosphere, although very intense and always with a great level of participation and sharing, left room for profound fraternal relations to develop and for the exchange of information about the vocational paths undertaken in the various countries represented. It is precisely this fraternity which provides the added value to these meetings and enables all the participants to perceive the joy of working in a sometimes demanding environment, which is nevertheless essential for the Kingdom of God and the life of the Church.
The first session examined the theme from a theological and ecclesiological point of view, through the contribution of Fr Laurent Villemin (France). Starting out from some of the insights of the French theologian Henry De Lubac in “Corpus Mysticum”, and in the light of John Paul II’s reflections “Ecclesia vivit de Eucharistia”, he underlined the importance of the communion dimension of the Eucharist, liberating it from the temptation of an always latent individualism. There is no Eucharist without a priest; and there is no Eucharist without community: it is the root of every authentic vocational prayer and of every choice of the gift of life for the Lord Jesus.
The second session was led by Fr Antonio Bravo Tisner (Spain), who, developing an original comment on the Eucharistic prayer “O Sacrum Convivium”, highlighted the importance of a personal ‘I’ which is absorbed in the otherness of the divine You.
Also much-appreciated was the testimony of Fr Conall O’Cuinn (Ireland), who presented an original communicative method of existential and vocational themes present in young people, and making them emerge through the language of films.
An interesting cultural-anthropological reading of the Christian vocation was suggested by the former Rector of Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr Franco Imoda (SJ). While emphasising the existential dimension of an holistic vision of the human person (mind-heart-desire), he highlighted how often the affective dynamic is at the centre of the vocational choice. It must develop in a “passion” which envelops the whole of life, in particular every life given in a choice of radical consecration, both in the ordained ministry and in the consecrated life.
Reports which outlined the current path of the Irish Church were significant: the preparation for and development of the International Eucharistic Congress (Fr Kevin Doran-Ireland); pastoral care of vocations of the Irish Church (Bishop Donal McKeown). Other useful and significant reports on the pastoral care of vocations touched on the issues of links with the reality of young people at university, the family, and multi-media communication (through an interesting smart phone vocational application).
The main reports from the Congress can be found on the EVS website: www.vocations.eu.
The Congress ended with the presentation of the new document Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry, drawn up by the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations of the Congregation for Catholic Education (Mgr Francis Bonnici).
At the end of the meeting Mgr Domenico Dal Molin (Italy) was elected for a three-year term as new EVS Co-ordinator, with two deputy co-ordinators, Fr Angel Perez Pueyo (Spain) and Sr M.Vincenta Korìnkovà (Czech Republic).