In the end it all comes back to prayer but young people who entered an essay competition about vocations to religious life generally wanted more information and more involvement in ministry and adults wanted more faith education at all stages of life.
The competition run by the Porirua branch of the Knights of the Southern Cross drew 45 entries with many themes on the topic How can a parish promote and foster religious vocations?
In the under 15 age category, Lachlan Dixon said that many students do think about religious life but ‘require guidance to help them realise the ups and downs of entering into religious vocations’. He suggested local priests talk to students during school assemblies about ‘how they entered the priesthood and what it is like being part of a parish once training is finished’.
In the 15-19 category, Katherine Prince outlined her joy at helping in children’s liturgy saying ‘I believe that involvement in the Mass gives a sense of belonging and responsibility in a community. If more young people were involved in the Mass, more might show an interest in living out a religious vocation.’
Another winner, Lucy Gijsbers said that ‘good role models are essential to inspire young people to follow’.
Natasha Wheal suggested that ‘if we learnt about famous religious men and women of our time, like Mother Teresa or Maximilian Kolbe, it might inspire us to want to be like them’.
The entries in the 20 plus category stressed the value of long-term education in faith linked with an experience of Christ. A winner in this category, Susanna van der Gulik, said that ‘for most adult Catholics, their parish church is the only place where we get faith input. If it doesn’t happen there, there is a good chance it will not happen at all. Education provides grounds for people to make fully informed decisions, remove obstacles set up by ignorance, and puts doubts and difficulties in perspective.’
Almost every entry stressed the importance of prayer for vocations perhaps best summed up in Antonia Anisy’s comment, ‘The parish must do what a parish does best—pray for vocations. A parish promoting and fostering religious vocations starts with just one member and just one voice and flourishes into a choir of a wonderful message.’
Lachlan Dixon, St Patrick’s College, Wellington.
Andrew Prince, Kavanagh College, Dunedin
15-19 age category
Lucy Gijsbers, home-schooled, Lower Hutt
Katherine Prince, Kavanagh College, Dunedin
20 age category
Ross Haigh, Our Lady of the Rosary, Waiwhetu
Susanna van der Gulik, St Brigid,