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Listening to the wisdom of EAO Vocation Directors (II)

By our own correspondent

EAO, 28 September 2020 -- Any EAO Salesian may access the complete summary of the EAO 2020 Vocation ministry reports on Boscolink , projected along the already traditional Salesian discernment path: Listening, Interpreting and deciding the Way Forward. What wisdom can we get from this 22-page summary, especially wanting to trace the Way Forward for each specific province or delegation?

First of all the overview table shows a surprising variety and creativity in the mosaic called ‘Salesian Vocation Culture’: All 12 provinces have at present one Salesian assigned to animate and lead the vocation ministry (2 of them are full-timers), 11 of the EAO provinces involve their young confreres in this ministry, 9 provinces invite the young people to an annual summer vocation camp while 6 provinces offer to the young people monthly vocation encounters and 5 provinces even a regular weekly encounter.

Second attention is called by the missing points – while many young people declare SNS or the digital world as their first encounter with Don Bosco and his Salesians, more regular online vocation story sharing is expected; while the period of accompaniment and discernment is getting longer, only a few provinces are preparing their confreres for personal spiritual accompaniment.

The modern cultural impact on young people is pointed to as the most frequent challenge of vocation ministry (7 provinces), closely followed by the need to move from simple recruitment to a vocation culture (5 provinces); lack of clear vocation vision or provincial vocation plan (5 provinces); the majority of vocations are coming from non-Salesian settings (5 provinces); lack of role model among the confreres (3 provinces) and more than 3 provinces voice their need to involve more Salesians, lay people and Salesian Family members (e.g. Salesian Cooperators) in this important ministry.

This EAO Vocation Ministry summary is recommended reading for all SDBs. We feel that main challenge of the vocation ministry is to involve each single confrere in this movement. We point mainly to the priority of vocations in each provincial sector, to the need to build up basic structures (vocation team, vocation FB or videos, sharing vocation stories), but personal vision, zeal and commitment can’t be substituted by any structures.

Among the first follow-up steps may be the attentive reading of best practices: Bible camp in Japan (since 1974), Sunday Aspirant encounters in Vietnam (691 junior-senior high school students and 223 college students in 5 centers), Saturday evening online VocTok in FIN province (SDB Vocation FB) or the changing face of the Junior Aspirantate in Thailand or Timor Leste.

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