Irish Delegates Attend European Vocations Conference
Fifty-three Delegates, from fifteen nations across Europe, including four from Ireland, Sr. Eileen Linehan, Director of Vocations Ireland, Bishop Donal McKeown, Episcopal Representative for Vocations in Ireland, Fr. Willie Purcell, Vocation Director, Diocese of Ossory and Fr. Muirdeach Tuffy, Director of Vocations, Diocese of Killala, attended the European Vocations Conference which took place in Esztergom, Hungary, from the 1st –4th July. As well as the European Delegates also present at the conference were Brother Paul Bednarczyk, CSC, Director of the National Religious Vocation Conference in the US and representatives of Serra International, a worldwide organisation which seeks to promote vocations to priesthood and religious life.
The theme of the conference this year, the year of the priest, was “Come and See: The Priest, Witness and Servant of Vocations.
During the course of the conference the delegates had opportunities to share their experience of vocation ministry in their respective countries and to engage in some analysis of the problems confronting this ministry at present. Each delegate also gave a short presentation on the work of the National Vocation Office in their own country.
Input was given by Monsignor Ianos Szekely auxiliary Bishop of Esztergom-Budapest, who spoke on the priest as prophetic witness, and that authentic prophetic witness draws its inspiration from a personal encounter with the living God. Monsignor Jean Louis Brugues, Secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education, also emphasised the personal encounter with Christ as the source of all vocations, especially of the priestly vocation. He spoke of the priest as one who guides and helps others and is therefore a “servant to all vocations”.
Other speakers at the conference were Fr. Mario Oscar Llanos, SDB, Professor of the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome, Monsignor Bosak Nandor, Episcopal Representative for Vocations In Hungary and Monsignor Juan Maria Uriarte, Bishop of San Sebastian, Spain, the latter spoke of the urgent need for the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and reflected on some of the reasons why priests might be reluctant to present priesthood as a life choice to younger men today. Again, he stressed that the most powerful incentive to others to consider a vocation to the priesthood was the life and witness of those already in the priesthood. He also distinguished between invitation and call, we can invite but the call always comes from God.
The Conference concluded with presentations from Fr. Eusebio Hernandez, representative of the Congregation for Consecrated Life; Fr. Francis Bonnici, representative of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Fr. Manuel Barbosa, representative of UCESM; Monsigno Wojciech Polak and Fr. Jorge Madureira, President of the EVS, who thanked all those who had participated.
The main papers of the 2010 Conference can be found on the Web page of EVS: www.vocations.eu
The next EVS Conference will take place from June 30 - July 3, 2011.