An innovative new program is soon to be launched in Ontario schools to discuss vocations. CNS photo/Sean Gallagher

New program helps make call on vocations

By 
  • November 24, 2012

An innovative new program being launched in Ontario schools to discuss vocations is founded on a basic premise.

“If we don’t begin discussing vocations early on, then we shouldn’t be surprised that few consider vocations later in life,” said John Kostoff, director of education at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

To that end, Kostoff, in partnership with the archdiocese of Toronto vocations office and Cardinal Thomas Collins, spearheaded a project to open a dialogue in elementary and high schools about the vocations of priesthood, religious orders, marriage and single life.

Called “Make The Call, Vocation Lessons,” the program is the first of its kind developed locally, Kostoff said. It was three years in development and field testing, and will be available for purchase at the end of November.

The program, which includes a DVD produced with Salt+Light Television, was unveiled at October’s When Faith Meets Pedagogy education conference.

“There has been considerable interest after that,” said Patricia Dal Ben, an academic consultant on the Dufferin-Peel board’s religious education and formation team. “We have about three school boards that are committed — are reviewing the product right now — and they will be putting in an order before the end of this fiscal year.”

The program is being distributed at the cost of materials (about $25) through the Catholic Curriculum Consortium. Development expenses were absorbed by the Dufferin-Peel board, said Kostoff.

Designed for Grades 2, 5, 8 and 12, the program provides teachers with resource material to give students a clear understanding of priesthood, religious orders, marriage and consecrated single life. Grades 2 and 8 were selected because they are sacrament years, with Grade 5 injected to bridge the six-year gap.

“We thought Grade 2 and 8 would be too far apart and we wanted to place something in there,” Dal Ben said. “Then Grade 12 because that is essentially the last time students will have a Catholic component unless they are going to a Catholic university.”

In Grade 12, the vocations material can be used as part of a religion or philosophy course.

“Regardless of whether you are taking the philosophy course or whether you are taking the morality course I think you would want to have a discussion with those students about where are you going, what do you feel called to (and) what are your gifts and talents,” she said.

Although the primary audience is students, Dal Ben said they are not the only ones who could benefit from this two-day curriculum. Eventually she’d like to see parish groups use the material.

“Secular media has led us to believe, or people to believe, myths about vocations,” said Dal Ben. “Part of this is about restoring the idea of what it means to have a vocation and what it means to be committed to a vocation.”

Those words were echoed by the curriculums’ co-developer, Fr. Hansoo Park, director of the archdiocese of Toronto’s vocation office.

“The word vocation has not been understood properly,” he said. “The word vocation, for at least the last decade, has been used in secular terminology as part of a career occupation or job.”

According to Park, unlike a career a vocation is a life-long commitment that does not have a retirement date.

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