23 April, 2021
Presence, it is said, is very vital in attracting young women for vocation to consecrated life. This is why the SHCJs in Ghana (Accra Community), put up every effort to show active presence in the 2021 Accra Archdiocesan Vocation Rally, held recently at the beautiful Corpus Christi Parish, Sakumono, in the Tema/ Battor Deanery, Accra, Ghana.
The event attracted a host of Religious Congregations both male and female, including the St. Louis Sisters, Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, the Franciscans, Jesuits and some indigenous congregations. Brief introduction of each Religious Order was made during the Mass and despite the COVID- 19 pandemic restrictions; the congregation was quite large and observed the Covid protocols. Interested parishioners were directed to meet with the Religious Order of their choice at their various vocation rally stands mounted at the Church ground across the road, opposite the Church building.
The area turned out to be the home of some Holy Child Past Students Association (HOPSA) members and one of them shared extensively with Srs Philomena Aidoo and Elizabeth Mgbaramuko on the need to intensify effort at encouraging vocation to the SHCJ in Ghana especially, in areas where vocation is lacking. Actually, the young ones were not very much forthcoming as only a few of them came around, collected the vocation leaflet and listened to some explanation while the majority went straight with their parents into their cars and drove off.
The HOPSA member, Mrs Susan Adu- Amankwah shared on why young women of this present era seem to abhor the idea of considering Religious Life as a veritable way of life, including their own children who have benefited from the educational apostolate of consecrated persons. Her views are hereby shared for all to consider and probably work with as we continue to ask the good Lord of the harvest, to send more labourers into his harvest.
- Catholic Schools should not leave vocation to chance – schools; junior, secondary and tertiary are among the places young people are mostly found. Our children are more interested in the professions than in religious vocation. “I want to be a Medical Doctor, a Lawyer or an Engineer” So they need to be encouraged more to understand that one could be a medical doctor and still be called by God to Consecrated Life. That way, she is freed from the possibility of marriage and so offer her profession back to God by using it in the service of God and humanity, in a consecrated state of life. Constant effort should be deliberately directed at organising and executing events that lend credit to that proposition.
- The Church also should not leave vocation to chance – there should be a deliberate plan to take in more Catholics into our schools despite the fact that the Government has taken over some of the Catholic Schools. Religious Congregations that still run private schools (especially, girls Schools) should be assisted to run them at affordable costs and be located within catchment areas so that average Catholic families can afford to send their girls to such schools. That way, vocation could be encouraged in such schools. Otherwise, how do you encourage vocation to religious life among students who want only your education and have nothing to do with your faith or religion?
- Career Day in Schools and Parishes – parents are willing to make laboratory coats, gown & wig, army and navy uniforms for their young ones to symbolize desired future careers but dare to put a Rev. Sr. habit on a child as a symbol of possible vocation, and the parents will react negatively to it.
- Role of Parents – Parents rather need to be pleasantly disposed to encouraging any of their young girls who shows sign of attraction to the religious state, through prayer and practical actions, instead of frowning at such inspiration. It is true that it is God that calls or chooses a person to be trained as a Priest or a Reverend Sister, but it is important that the one who is being called gains the prayerful support and goodwill of their parents or guardian to enable them discern God’s will in their life. Such support ought to be given even to the most talented among their wards, but it is unfortunate that some parents only propose the religious state for a daughter of theirs whom they know very well she has some fundamental health or other issues that constitute a big challenge. Why not encourage a gifted daughter of yours to become a Religious if she so desires?
- Role of Priests – Priests too should give encouragement to those who come to them to inquire about Religious Sisterhood. They should direct them to visit any female congregations of their choice and not discredit some Religious Sisters or their congregations before intending postulants.
- Female Religious Congregations – Sisters should intensify their effort at being present with young people in the parishes, in schools, at work places, in social media platforms and also accompany them on ‘one-on one’ basis. The vocation Coordinator of each area should be a Communicator – communicating the good news of who the Sisters are, what they do and do so in the language of the youth, physically and virtually.
- Above all, it is said that the habit does not make the Monk or the Nun, and that the world is tired of listening to preachers. Young adults interested in religious life are now searching for Religious Orders in which the practical lifestyle of the Rev. Sisters matches the holiness represented by the splendid habits they wear.