Promoting vocations also our duty – laity

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MANILA, June 5, 2015—While it is already a given that priests and religious should work towards inspiring others, especially the youth, by their “saintly examples,” lay Filipino Catholics are starting to realize that it is no less true that they themselves must take a more active part in promoting vocations to the ordained and consecrated lives, particularly as Pope Francis has made this call central to his intention for evangelization this June.

Redemptorist lay missionary Edwin Dio Despabiladeras (wearing glasses, in blue shirt) with vocation discerners during the monthly vocation search-in held at National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church) receiving room (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

Lay cooperation

“Let us not leave the task of promoting vocations to our clergy and religious alone. As members of the Church, we [laity] are also called upon to support them in this area. Each one of us, parents and teachers, most especially, should express cooperation by motivating young minds to enter the priestly and consecrated lives,” said Prof. Nestor Limqueco, a college instructor and a professed member of the Company of St. Dominic (CSD), a Dominican secular institute under the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM).

He noted that by being role models and by setting good examples, in their own little way, the lay faithful can also hope to lead many souls into “God’s vineyard.”

Christian duty

“The harvest is many but the laborers are few. Conscious of this fact, I see it as my Christian duty and responsibility to help my students discern their callings. In many ways, we, the laity, have a greater challenge to respond to because we are more visible and, therefore, have more opportunities to give witness to our faith in the world,” Limqueco explained.

“If you are a Christian educator, be the most Christian educator you can ever be. If you are a Christian parent, be the best Christian parent to your children,” he added.

For Br. Martin Francisco, a religious missionary ministering to the indigenous Dumagat communities on the Sierra Madre, it is just as important to continue praying for the increase of vocations.

Praying for courage

“Like the Holy Father, we have to pray for today’s young people so that they will have the courage to [go] out of their way to love and to extend mercy to those who most need it, taking on the challenge of offering themselves as priests and consecrated persons,” he said.

For his evangelization intention this month, Pope Francis expresses hope that “the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.”

Vocations rising

Meanwhile, Fr. Hernando Coronel, rector of the San Carlos Seminary, reported that there is a growing number of people training for the ordained ministry due allegedly to the Argentine pontiff’s recent visit to the country.

The priest told CBCP News that there has been a 13 percent-increase among philosophy and theology enrollees, slightly higher from last year’s.

“There are more seminarians from the Archdiocese of Manila. There are also seminarians from as far as Borongan, Samar in the Visayas, and Tandag, Surigao del Sur in Mindanao,” Coronel said.

Upward trend

While the rector lacks the enrollment figures of other seminaries, he is optimistic they enjoy the same upward trend.

“We are glad that with the fervor of the laypeople, there is also an increase in vocations. Now put to the test is the level of perseverance of the seminarians and the quality of their commitment,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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