VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In its ministry to young people, and especially in vocations promotion work, church workers must step out of the sacristy and take seriously the questions and concerns of the young, Pope Francis said.
Young people are searching for meaning, and the best response is to go out to where they are, stop and listen to them and then call them to follow Jesus, the pope said Oct. 21.
Meeting participants at a vocations promotion conference sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy, Pope Francis emphasized the need for church workers to be on the move and to echo the vocations call Jesus used with the disciples, “Follow me.”
“Jesus’ desire is to set people out on a journey, moving them from a lethal sedentary lifestyle and breaking through the illusion that they can live happily while remaining comfortably seated amid their certainties,” Pope Francis said.
The seeking and desire to explore that comes naturally to most young people “is the treasure that the Lord puts in our hands and that we must care for, cultivate and make blossom,” the pope said.
Care is key, he said. It requires an ability for “discernment, which accompanies the person without ever taking over his or her conscience or pretending to control the grace of God.”
Vocations promotion, which is the responsibility of every Catholic, the pope said, must follow the same steps Jesus used when interacting with people.
“Jesus stopped and met the gaze of the other, without rushing,” he said. “This is what makes his call attractive and fascinating.”
Jesus did not stay in “the secure fortress of the rectory,” the pope said, but set out into the cities and villages, pausing to listen to the people he came across, “taking in the desire of those who sought him out, the delusion of a failed night of fishing, the burning thirst of a woman who went to the well to get water or the strong need to change one’s life.”
“In the same way, instead of reducing faith to a book of recipes or a collection of norms to observe, we can help young people ask the right questions, set out on their journey and discover the joy of the Gospel,” he said.
Every pastor and, particularly, everyone involved with helping young Catholics discern their vocations, he said, must have a pastoral style that is “attentive, not rushed, able to stop and decipher in depth, to enter into the life of the other without making him or her ever feel threatened or judged.”
Pope Francis told conference participants that he has never liked speaking about vocations ministry as an office in the diocesan chancery or headquarters of a religious order. It’s not an office or a project because it is all about helping someone meet the Lord and answer the Lord’s call.
“Learn from the style of Jesus, who went to the places of daily life, stopped without rushing and, looking upon his brothers and sisters with mercy, led them to an encounter with God the father,” the pope said.
While looking at the young with mercy, vocations directors and bishops also must evaluate candidates for the priesthood with “caution (and) without lightness or superficiality,” he said. “Especially to my brother bishops, I say: Vigilance and prudence. The church and the world need mature and balanced priests, pastors who are intrepid and generous, capable of closeness, listening and mercy.”
Vocations promotion work can be frustrating and discouraging at times, Pope Francis said, “but if we don’t close ourselves up in whining and we keep going out to proclaim the Gospel, the Lord will stay with us and give us the courage to cast the nets again even when we are tired and disappointed at having caught nothing.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Jesuit church no longer open for talks on South African university crisis
NEXT: Two popes, one mission: Cardinal looks at papal ministry
Share this story