Cebu in Philippines : vocation promotion!

We are living in a modern and globalized society which becomes a challenge for vocation promotion. It is so hard to attract young women due to the pressure of processes of change such as technologies. ‘The process of secularization that is advancing in contemporary culture does not, unfortunately, spare even religious communities’.
There were two events that I would like to share with you which I was part of it. First, was a Vocation Jamboree held in Cebu City, and second, was a 23rd DVP (Directors of Vocations in the Philippines) National Convention held at South Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines.
a) Vocation Jamboree: Diocese of Cebu
Vocation Jamboree is one of the many ways in Promoting Vocation here in Cebu. It is a yearly event organized by various Directors of vocation in the Philippines – Cebu Chapter. It was held on the 25th February, and that is the month for vocation in Cebu.
Vocation month, nursing students - Cebu
After some time of sharing and reflection, we came up with the theme: Youth of Cebu: Rooted and Grounded in Jesus Love (Eph. 3:17) we believed that this theme would help the young people to find Jesus in a modern and globalized society.
The programs of the weekend were done in a way that was different and unique. It was well-planned and even the students and young professional gave remarkable feedback while they were doing the different activities through the carousel rotation system. Each carousel lasted half an hour. The first destination of the carousel rotation was a talk on vocation. The second was adoration. The third was the visitation of the booths of various religious organizations. The fourth was the Rosary.
Later, there was a small group sharing where the delegates shared a little about their lives and charisms. It was then followed by the celebration of Mass with different Bishops and Priests. Then, the closing remarks followed by dancing from different youth and religious groups.
The activities were spectacular for everyone, because it was a gathering of around 5 thousands youth and more than 70 Congregations participated.
Preparing for this event was not an easy task. We had a lot of meetings, campaigns and follow ups. It gave us an opportunity to be more creative in planning activities that would be more meaningful for us and for the young people. It enhanced our friendships. It increased our collaborative efforts. It touched our hearts and eventually lifted our spirit to God. More so it left an imprint in our heart of God’s love and generosity.
The young people enjoyed and shared themselves heartily in all the three carousel activities. The Eucharist Celebration was lively in the expression of a deep faith.
Vocation Work within Cebu Community
Our community has some significant events in our Vocation Work. We have been having recollection together with some young women from the age of 18 and above on our half day recollection. From that group, we listen very attentively to those who express their attraction to religious life. We continue to invite them to a ‘search-in program’. This is more of a deeper sharing about us as LSA. We have been travelling to participate in various activities of vocation outside of Cebu. We visit other parts of the provinces when young woman interest to know about the LSA.
One of the practices that we are doing is to welcome to our house young women who want to visit or stay a night with us, just to get sense how we live in community life. We share meals, pray and share with them our thoughts. We welcomed a young woman whom I met in Mindanao; she visited us, just wanting to meet us.
Within the Vocation Work, I have experienced many challenges. I see the need for a greater time, energy and finance. It needs a lot of patient and understanding. Creativity is one of the demands which I need. This will give more encouragement to the young women and also to attract us.
In the process of close accompaniment, I have discovered certain issues emerge as a pattern of discernment by young women in the Philippines. One of the strong values in the Philippine is the family unit. This is the barrier for the young women to join, knowing that they need to help their family. How long is a question? The pressure of being youth is another barrier. They are still wandering and hanging and undecided. Fall in love on the process of searching is part of the journey in which they have to make decision.
In the reality of our vocation ministry, it seems that we have been only in the beginnings preparing the soil, but now the situation has changed a little, and we may have some seedlings ready. We now see some young women are interesting. It takes time…..
b) 23rd DVP National Convention (Directors of Vocation in the Philippines)
The National convention takes place every two years and in different places. This time it was held at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, General Santos City, Diocese of Marbel, and South Cotabato. It was the 23rd National Convention. The theme was ‘Creating a “Culture” that Witnesses and Awakens Vocation in the Local Church’. It aims to provide a comprehensive pastoral approach to the vocation promoters’ apostolate.
DVP Convention
It was a wonderful opportunity for Sr. Bernie and me, for the first time to participate in this Convention. There were 280 participants from different congregations, Bishops, Priests, Religious and few lay vocation promoters. (These are usually young men and women that Congregations employ or they volunteer to do vocation promotion on behalf of the Congregation)
There were 5 speakers; 3 Bishops, 1 Priest, 1 lay woman (Ambassador Henrietta De. Villa)
The speakers were excellent and in their topics mentioned:
  • Clarifying Values, Creating a Culture of Vocations in the Philippines: to value the culture as a tool for evangelization. The values of the traditional cultures enrich the gospel and of course, there is a process of sanctification and transformation.
  • Family and Community Practices, Imaging a Culture of Vocations. - It stresses that the family plays an important role in our vocation. The family is the domestic church which is the first teacher. 
  • Vocation Promotion by way of Living the Spirituality of the Diocesan Priesthood and Witnessing to Christ, the Good Shepherd. – It asks that the best way to promote vocation is to be a good witness of Jesus. This is to walk His ways, speaks His words and lives His life.
A Call to Deeper Communion and Collaboration. – The emphasis is on the community which needs to work together and collaborate. This globalized, post modern world does not support a culture of vocation. The changes affect society and there is an urgent need to have spirit of communion.
The four days helped me to realize that we are living in a society which is dynamic and not static. Vocation is a life journey which each one has search for Jesus daily. Today, vocation is better understood as the result of a dynamic, on-going relationship between God and the individual – a calling that becomes clearer to the individual as she/he grows in self-knowledge and in her awareness that she is uniquely and deeply loved by God.
In the words of Pope Benedict, ‘creating a culture of vocation is creating conditions for vocations. We have to set an atmosphere in every aspect of life that will nurture vocations. He is pressing that each one of us is responsible to magnify the magnificence and the beauty of the love of God which is the necessary condition and source of this holy vocation’.
Being here and accompanying several young women gives me a lot of challenges. Their life stories have many wounds which need to be healed. The hope that I have: that Jesus uses wounded people to deliver his message. It gives me a lot of courage not to lose hope but to walk side by side with these women. 
“Vocation, the Gift of the Love of God” (49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations)
Enasi, Little Sister of the Assumption, Cebu Community
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