A Topic at the 35th General Congregation

Vocation Promotion

Complementary Norms 412

GC 34, Decree 10

"Regarding Vocations" by Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, 1997

The declining numbers of men choosing to enter the Society of Jesus makes the vocation discussion an urgent one. So it is remarkable that only a single postulate (request for discussion) was submitted on the topic of vocation promotion. That postulate requested that each province create a comprehensive plan for vocations. Beyond just inviting candidates, how will the Society welcome them and give them support throughout the many years of formation? A key issue is adapting the vocation programs to the local culture and province.

Central to the discussion is a look at why the Society is not attracting more candidates. Vocation promoters appear to be working hard and in many cases quite creatively but still the numbers are decreasing. Additional research may be needed to examine the reasons behind the decline in vocations. Vocation promoters are encouraged to share with each other their most effective programs.

The formation program of the Society is rigorous and those who are invited into it must be both intellectually and spiritually mature. The Society cannot let the diminishing number of vocations lead to any drop in its exacting standards for those who join the Society. The hope is that this discussion at GC 35 on vocations might result in proposals for solutions.

Fr. Kolvenbach wrote in 1997 that Jesuits must “live our vocation and mission in a clear, visible, unambiguous way, as an apostolic body and not simply as individual apostles." He also challenged members of the Society to look at the way they live their lives:

“The lack of simplicity in our lifestyle, inconsistencies in our way of living the vows, a certain disaffection with regard to the hierarchy and ambiguities in relation to the Church´s teaching, lack of zeal and apostolic creativity, and the lack of openness and hospitality in our communities certainly play a role in the dramatic decrease in vocations in some parts of the Society."

Working with youth programs has long been a way to introduce young men to life in the Society. Are we still supporting youth programs and are we offering the Spiritual Exercises to young men we encounter?

Is my own lifestyle an inspiring apostolic witness for the Society? How might the formation process be more effective and how might it be more attractive to "trained minds and dedicated spirits"?

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