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Thursday, 04 August 2011 02:35

Vocation conference offers sharing and hope

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Held from 8-11 June, the conference involved directors of vocations, vocations office staff and seminary rectors and staff whose ministry is particularly with young men discerning the vocation of diocesan priesthood.

Over the four days, the 31 participants from across Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand came together to share information and trends and provide mutual support to each other.

They also listened to a number of speakers including the keynote address from Bishop Timothy Costelloe from the Archdiocese of Melbourne who discussed the identity of the priest.

Other speakers included Monsignor Anthony Randazzo, Director of the Holy Spirit Seminary, Banyo in Brisbane, who spoke on seminary formation and unpacked Pope John Paul II's Pastores Davo Vobis. Father Maurizio Pettena, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office gave a presentation on overseas candidates and seminarians, and Mark Lysaght, Vocations Promoter for the Archdiocese of Brisbane shared his ideas on effective marketing and vocations promotions. Tony Leon FMS from Marist Vocations also ran a hypothetical session for the group.

The delegates also attended a special Mass for their conference celebrated by Archbishop George Pell in the crypt of St Mary's Cathedral.

Organisers of the conference were Father Paul Chandler from the Archdiocese of Brisbane and Catholic Vocations Ministry Australia (CVMA).

Father Paul said the conference went extremely well with a great sense of companionship and support among the participants.

He said whenever priests come together there is immense potential for mutual support and encouragement.

"When the generous and committed lay and religious personnel from the various vocations offices around the nation and regions come also, there is an even greater sense of hope and an even greater potential for great things to emerge."

While the last similar conference was held in 2005, the general feeling from the delegates was that the next one should not be five years away.

"There are significant benefits in holding such a conference," says Father Paul.

"The first one is one of support and networking among those who work in this area of vocations ministry. Secondly, to have the opportunity to speak, discuss and reflect upon the specific characteristics of working in the areas of vocations to diocesan priesthood is of great benefit to those of working in this ministry."