Vocations to the priesthood, religious life and the lay consecrated life are everybody’s business. This is no cliché because we have not said it enough in our archdiocese. We need to say, “Vocations is everybody’s business” until, in fact, it becomes a cliché in our local Church.
This is the risk that the Archdiocesan Vocations Recruitment Team has to take in order that families, parishes, schools, youth ministry and Catholic teachers all see themselves as being co-responsible for the promotion of vocations together with those who have been officially assigned this ministry by the archbishop. We have not made this mental shift because of a very practical oversight and misconception.
Somehow many Catholic families and churchgoers, in general, in a strange way, believe that priests, for example, are somehow mass manufactured somewhere— probably in India, China, Nigeria and the Philippines. It is not unusual to hear some Catholics say: “Why can’t we import some priests from regions where there are surplus vocations?” It is not as simple as that.
This archdiocese welcomes foreign missionaries, and will always do so. Notwithstanding the universality of the Church, we also have a responsibility to build up a culture of vocations in our local Church.
God always gifts the local Church for its unique mission. We have a unique mission here in Trinidad and Tobago. We must create an environment whereby the gifts of vocations can grow healthily. We have the ability to foster vocations locally; we have done it before since the opening of our seminary 75 years ago. We can do it again.
Although the ground of vocation promotions is hard due to a number of variables, it is not impossible to once more fill our seminaries and religious houses.
One of the missing components is a sense of co-responsibility for local vocations. Every arm of this archdiocese, every Catholic in the archdiocese must dream, “Made in Trinidad and Tobago”. It is at this point that we would look to our Church and foster a culture of vocations herein.