On the 23rd DVP National Convention

By Fr Andre Semeni

The Directors of Vocations in the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Vocations (DVP-ECV) via its National Office annually gives numerous opportunities to highlight the importance of vocations in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. Every year, newcomers in the field of vocation animation are whole heartily invited to attend the seminars on modules such as: (1) Basic orientation on vocation promotion; (2) Spiritual direction in vocation promotion; (3) Family relations in vocation promotion and (4) Human sexuality in the vocation journey. Besides its intense formation program that encompasses the above mentioned phases or seminars, workshops are also offered to equip the vocation ministers with shared experiences, knowledge and skills in promoting vocations and journeying with young people.

This year, in connection with the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations and with the support and collaboration of the diocese of Marbel, DVP-ECV is holding its 23rd National Convention on Vocations at the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City. This biannual celebration is scheduled on April 16 to 20, 2012 with the theme “Creating a “Culture” that witnesses and awakens vocations in the local Church.” Among other Church’s leaders to grace the 23rd National Congress are the Most Reverends Orland QUEVEDO, Luis Antonio TAGLE, and Reynaldo G. EVANGELISTA. Other resource persons for conferences other than those given by the bishops include Fr. Jose QUILONGQUILONG and Amb. Henrietta de VILLA. After listening to the current situations of vocation awareness and promotions in the Local Church and sharing their own personal thoughts and insights, the participants should also be able “to reflect on the message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations” in order “to come up with a workable and relevant Constitution and By-Laws of DVP for a more effective and integrated vocation promotions.”

Moreover, under this formulation, the theme is supposed to take up and help the participants ponder on the Pope Benedict XVI’s messages for the celebrations of the 47thand 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In 2005, his Holiness announced: “The 47thWorld Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on the Fourth Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday – 25 April 2010, gives me the opportunity to offer for your meditation a theme which is most fitting for this Year for Priests: “Witness Awakens Vocations.” The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations depends primarily on God’s free action, yet, as pastoral experience confirms, it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord’s call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life, for their witness is then able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ’s call. This theme is thus closely linked to the life and mission of priests and of consecrated persons… Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness. Consequently, in order to foster vocations to the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life, and to be more effective in promoting the discernment of vocations, we cannot do without the example of those who have already said “yes” to God and to his plan for the life of each individual. Personal witness, in the form of concrete existential choices, will encourage young people for their part to make demanding decisions affecting their future. Those who would assist them need to have the skills for encounter and dialogue which are capable of enlightening and accompanying them, above all through the example of life lived as a vocation.

Indeed, today more than ever, the vocation directors, directresses and lay promoters need to find the tools, ways and strategies that will enable them to create a “culture of vocations” in all ecclesiastical jurisdictions (parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities), and social institutions (families, schools). As his Holiness put it last year, “The 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on 15 May 2011, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, invites us to reflect on the theme: “Proposing Vocations in the Local Church“… It is essential that every local Church become more sensitive and attentive to the pastoral care of vocations, helping children and young people in particular at every level of family, parish and associations… “Proposing Vocations in the Local Church” means having the courage, through an attentive and suitable concern for vocations, to point out this challenging way of following Christ which, because it is so rich in meaning, is capable of engaging the whole of one’s life… I address a particular word to you, my dear brother Bishops. To ensure the continuity and growth of your saving mission in Christ, you should “foster priestly and religious vocations as much as possible, and should take a special interest in missionary vocations” (Christus Dominus, 15). The Lord needs you to cooperate with him in ensuring that his call reaches the hearts of those whom he has chosen. Choose carefully those who work in the Diocesan Vocations Office, that valuable means for the promotion and organization of the pastoral care of vocations and the prayer which sustains it and guarantees its effectiveness… The ability to foster vocations is a hallmark of the vitality of a local Church.”

 

Given its historical background and the specific concerns of the organizers, it is worth mention that this national gathering used to be an annual event from 1974 to 1980. The first (1st) DVP National Convention took place at the Christ the King Seminary in Metro Manila on May 20-22, 1974. During the seventh (7th ) DVP National Convention held at the Mary Help of Christian Seminary in Pangasinan from April 8-12, 1980, it was decided that for a better preparation and for a more meaningful celebration, the convention be held every other year following a rotation plan among the different regions of the archipelago. Throughout these years, the participants have been invited to tour the Philippines:

  • Makati City, Metro Manila (2nd National Convention) on May 6-8, 1975;
  • Mabolo, Cebu City (3rd National Convention) on March 22-26, 1976;
  • Bacolod City (4th National Convention) on April 12-16, 1977;
  • Cagayan de Oro (5th National Convention) on April 9-21, 1978;
  • Tabaco, Albay (6th National Convention) on April 17-21, 1979;
  • Jaro, Iloilo City (8th National Convention) on April 12-16, 1982;
  • Palo, Leyte (9th National Convention) on April 9-13, 1984;
  • Makati City, Metro Manila (10th National Convention) on April 1-5, 1986;
  • Mabolo, Cebu City (11th National Convention) on April 4-8, 1988;
  • Lucena City (12th National Convention) on April 17-21, 1990;
  • Daraga, Albay (13th National Convention) on April 20-24, 1992;
  • Cagayan de Oro (14th National Convention) on April 4-8, 1994;
  • Iloilo City (15th National Convention) on April 8-12, 1996;
  • Baguio City (16th National Convention) on April 13-17, 1998;
  • Davao City (17th National Convention) on May 1-5, 2000;
  • Lahug, Cebu City (18th National Convention) on April 15-19, 2002;
  • Bacacay, Albay (19th National Convention) on April 19-23, 2004;
  • Surigao City (20th National Convention) on April 24-28, 2006;
  • Palo, Leyte (21st National Convention) on April 21-25, 2008;
  • Vigan City and Laoag City (22nd National Convention) on April 19-23, 2010.

The theme of the 23rd convention is a reminder that each one and every one of us is ultimately God’s best medium in calling young Filipinos people to join our Xaverian family. In the aftermath of our Founder’s canonization, as we recognize the greatest calling of all of us to be saints, we need to value highly the Local Church, the locus of our missionary work. We storm heaven with prayers for the success and fruitfulness of the 23rd National Convention. We pray with Mama Mary, who knew how to keep the divine mystery in her heart, that the General Santos experiences bring more life to the participants and convenors, and more love in their vocation ministry.

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