Archbishop Bonazzi (left)

Nuncio exhorts Canadian religious to build vocations culture

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  • December 2, 2014

OTTAWA - As Pope Francis inaugurated the Year of Consecrated Life Nov. 30, Canada’s Apostolic Nuncio exhorted Canadian religious to build a culture of vocations.

Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi urged religious men and women to not be afraid to make a courageous and direct call to young people.

“Go among the youth,” he wrote in a document entitled “Take Care of Vocations.”

“The hearts of many of the young and not so young are ready to listen to you,” the nuncio said. “Many of them are looking for a purpose for their life; they are waiting to discover a mission that is worth consecrating their life to.”
Bonazzi acknowledged the suffering brought by a drop in the numbers of religious in Canada from 60,000 in the 1960s to 15,000 today, with a median age of 80. Scarce vocations in religious life are a suffering for the Church similar to that of a married couple unable to have children, he said.

“But we do not suffer like people who are resigned and have lost hope. No!”

Instead, Bonazzi said Jesus is offering them a “heartfelt appeal” to “answer an urgent need which is paramount for the life of the Church” and to “thank Him for the gift you have received, a gift so great that it cannot but arouse an unquenchable desire to share and communicate it.”

He reminded them the call of God is engraved on each person’s heart from all eternity. In previous decades, a familial and religious context favoured vocations, but that is not true today, he said.

“Today ‘the voice’ of a vocation is very hard to hear because it risks being suffocated in the midst of many other voices which become obstacles,” he said.

Using the image of a satellite that can help connect communication between two points on Earth, he urged religious to be part of that triangle, providing a way for the voice engraved on the person’s soul to be heard by that person himself.

Referring to the story of the infant Samuel in the Old Testament, he asked if today’s young Samuels will “find an Eli to help them hear that it is the Lord who is calling them?”  

Bonazzi offered five “concrete actions” religious women and men could take to foster vocations, including trusting in the power of prayer; encouraging religious to “manifest Jesus”; urging them to speak openly and boldly, and to move from a “pastoral approach that waits” to one of “proposal”; devote themselves generously to spiritual direction; and to “propose paths of communion,” because “vocation to consecrated life is never a private matter to manage enclosed in oneself.”

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