International Laity commission - The Vocations Ministry
A Little Sisters–Laity space for sharing life – mission and broadening the space of our tent
Two years ago some of us laity received a very special invitation from Sr Lilia Amparo and a Chilean Augustinian of the Assumption, Juan Manuel: they invited us to be members of the youth and vocations ministry team. Now, having journeyed well together, the team comprises Lilia L.S.A., Fr Esteban A.A., Rolando a lay Augustinian, Gloria, Ricardo and myself, lay Assumptionists.
Initially, the work began with reflection on the mission this team has, its importance for each of the congregations and the involvement and commitment for each of the participants. It was necessary that each of us reflect on his or her own vocation and how to live it today, as well as thinking about how we are going to present to the young people and to others the following of Jesus, in a more radical way whether it be as a priest or as a sister. We were not beginning from nothing as we would be continuing work that had already been started, but which now would be counting on the participation of laity linked with both congregations.
The reflection and the experiences led us to share about what is implied by knowing that we are all called to life and, in that, to being baptised persons. From there we respond according to the diversity of vocations: married, single, priest or consecrated life. But today, as yesterday, our congregation has a variety of possibilities for living our vocation in a more radical way as there are possibilities such as being an Aola (Associate of Our Lady of the Assumption), being a member of the fraternities and being a lay associate – all vocations that are necessary in order to refashion a people for God among the ordinary people and the poor.
We recognise the richness of our charism, the depth of our spirituality and the importance of our mission. It is what we can offer to the young people and to each person in order to respond to the call made to us each day by JESUS SERVANT AND SAVIOUR.
Having this framework for action we got down to the task of developing different strategies and activities so as to attain the young people with our vocation proposal. We began by setting up some workshops for young people, which we made operational, doing this with some youth groups to see if what we were proposing was clear for them and taking on the challenge of making these paths to thinking along vocational lines. There we saw the need to construct other workshops and to put in place an accompaniment process for the groups or persons and to decide in what way the laypeople and the religious would participate respectively.
Simultaneously we joined with other congregations in seek-ing out places where we might promote our congregation by being part of the local inter-congregational pastoral and vocational team of the Conference of Religious of Colombia. This made it possible for us to participate in some courses on the vocations ministry and to make some vocation trips to some cities and towns of Colombia such as San Gil, Puerto Boyacá, Trinidad, El Convento, Riohacha and, obviously, colleges and parishes in Bogotá.
For our part and also with the help of some conceptual elements offered to Sister Lilia during a course on the vocations which she attended in Quito, Ecuador, with the Religious of the Assumption, we produced new publicity concerning the Congregation. We also introduced a kina of roving encounter with the young people known as ’vocational coffee’. For two hours, around a cup of coffee, there is a sharing of life experiences according to the various vocations. We had a married couple, a religious (man or woman) and a layperson involved in community and social affairs. In the course of the year we had about seven ’vocational coffees’ and we ended with a two-day youth camp or meeting outside the city, with young people from different places and groups.
We also organised our own vocation trips, returning to places where the Little Sisters had been. That is how we visited the town of Miraflores-Boyacá, and the Christmas mission was organised so as to invite young people to have such an experience, with the choice of going to Miraflores or to Riohacha in la Guajira.
We are continuing our mission and now we have the challenge of encouraging other cities such as Medellín and Cali to form their own vocations ministry teams and to network. They should highlight special times such as Holy Week, Christmas and the mid-year holidays and have, in line with the characteristics of each town, the ’vocational coffees’. We should link up with other existing teams in the territory, develop our own workshops in colleges and parishes where we are invited, as is being done now in Cali and Medellín, take advantage of Facebook and whatsApp, and as a team have our times of formation and sharing about life. We have also invited others to be part of this process, all of it within the context of vocations.
We have reflected on and evaluated this journey. We know that we are on a good path and we are hoping that the Lord will inspire young people and every person who comes in contact with us to let themselves be seduced by the Assumption. To paraphrase Father Pernet: "The Little Sister, the Aola, the fraternities, the laymen and laywomen of the Assumption are all called in our mission to make Our Lord known, loved and served, and to refashion a people for God for the promotion of the poor, the worker and their family." Whatever their response to this call may be, they always have a place in our big Assumption family.
Lilia, Gloria, Esteban, Rolando, Ricardo and Victor
Youth and Vocations Ministry Team