"Cultivating life as a vocation": Day of Native Vocations and Prayer

Next Sunday, April 21, two vocation days will be celebrated: the Native Vocations Day, to financially support seminaries in mission territories, and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Loreto Rios-April 16, 2024-Reading time: 3 minutes

Luis Manuel Romero, Ana Cristina Ocaña, Daniel Díaz-Rincón and Nicéforo Obama at briefing, April 16, 2024

On April 21, two important days related to vocations will be celebrated: the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, organized in Spain by the World Vocations Day. Spanish Episcopal Conference, CONFER (Episcopal Conference of Religious) and CEDIS (Spanish Conference of Secular Institutes), and the Day of Native Vocations, organized by OMP (Pontifical Mission Societies). This year's theme is "Thy will be done. All disciples, all missionaries".

This morning, a briefing was held at the headquarters of the Spanish Episcopal Conference presenting both days. Luis Manuel Romero, secretary of the Vocational Pastoral Service of the EEC, explained that the objectives of these two days are threefold: to arouse in young people the question of vocation in their lives, to invite the whole Church to pray for vocations, and that native vocations arise in the young churches of other continents.

He also explained that this year's motto refers to the need to "try to raise awareness that we have to cultivate life as a vocation. He also specified that all vocations are prayed for, not only those of consecration. "All vocations have to complement each other".

As an example of the variety of vocations that can occur in the Church, the first speaker was Father Nicéforo Obama, a native of Equatorial Guinea, who explained that since he was a child he was impressed by the dedication and devotion of some Spanish nuns who lived in his area. Later, he entered the minor seminary, with the desire to be ordained a priest to help others to seek in Jesus the answers he had already found. After finishing his secondary education, he went on to the major seminary (a seminary that was practically founded by Spain, he said), and was ordained a priest in 2014, marking the tenth anniversary of his ordination this year.

Father Nicéforo Obama has highlighted the importance of the The work of St. Peter the Apostlewhich, within the Pontifical Mission Societies, is in charge of supporting native vocations. Without this work, says this Guinean priest, it would be very difficult for young people in his country to be ordained, since, in addition to the economic impediments, it is a culture in which it is not understood that it is necessary to invest in the education of a son, if he will not bring income to the family with his profession. Currently, 800 seminaries in the world depend on the Work of St. Peter the Apostle.

Obama also indicated that the work of vocations in mission territories goes beyond pastoral work. While the Church in the West "is a bit hidden" because governments now take on many social works that used to depend only on the Church, in the mission territories, the Church is the "face" that goes out to meet every person when there is a need, whether it is an illness, economic problems, training, etc. Therefore, says Nicéforo, "to support one of these vocations is to help many people.

Daniel, representative of the young people of General Catholic Action, then shared his testimony as an example of lay vocation. His process comes from his childhood, since he grew up in a Catholic family, and, little by little, he discovered a call to be a missionary in his profession, in the social spaces where priests and the Church cannot reach. This restlessness was defined little by little in his work in General Catholic Action.

Finally, Ana Cristina Ocaña, a consecrated laywoman from CEDIS (Spanish Conference of Secular Institutes), explained that the vocation of consecrated secularity implies being 100 % lay people and 100 % consecrated at the same time, "one reality does not detract from the other". It is a vocation to "remain in the world", and, as Daniel also explained earlier, "to be where the Church cannot go".

On the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the organizing entities have prepared a joint web site about the event.

The specific page of Vocaciones Nativas, through which donations can also be made, can be found at here.

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