Meeting of Central European Formation Masters
A group of Brothers and Co-workers from the Austrian, Bavarian and Polish Provinces met in Vienna on 23-24 January 2017 to take stock of their Vocations Promotion activities and to discuss various aspects of different stages of formation.
The first part of this inter-Provincial meetings was devoted entirely to a number of issues relating to Vocations Promotion. The meeting was opened by Sr Ruth Pucher MC who presented the “Religious Volunteer Year” project, of which she is the coordinator. This project gives people interested in the Religious Life the chance to take part in the Community life of a male or female Religious Institute for a period ranging from 3 months to one year. Unlike short vocational visits, this initiative enables interested people to gain a first-hand close understanding of what living in a Religious community is all about. At the present time, both young and older men and women are taking part in the Religious Volunteer Year in search of a more profound way of living their lives.
The second speaker was the Augustinian Fr Manfred Krautsieder, who set out to explain what is the attraction of the Religious Life to men and women of our age. According to recent statistics on the Religious Life, the percentage of consecrated men and women over 75 years of age in Germany and Austria is very high; and it also transpires that in recent years the number of novices has remained unchanged. The speaker emphasised the importance of transmitting the “added value” offered by the consecrated life and of emphasising the fact that, far from placing constraints on life, consecrating one’s life to God actually liberates it.
The 3rd session was animated by 2 media professionals who addressed “Social Media and Vocations Promotion“ and provided a series of very useful suggestions on how to use Facebook and other modern Internet media. They also illustrated a project on setting up a “Fatebenefratelli blog“.
A thorough discussion then took place and a wideranging exchange of ideas and experiences on their vocations promotion activities. These covered a broad range and varied from Province to Province. For example in the Czech Republic, the Order invited young men to attend “vocational excursions” in the High Tatra Mountains, while the Graz Interprovincial Novitiate in Austria will be opening its doors in August this year to stage a number of “Hospitality Days”.
On the 2nd day, the meeting reviewed the different stages of Formation. The officials reported on the situation in, and the prospects for, the Prepostulantancy, Postulancy, Novitiate and Scholasticate. One encouraging sign of hope that emerged was that there are still young men in Central Europe, albeit not very many, who feel the call and choose the vocation of the Brother of Saint John of God. In this connection the meeting also spoke of cooperation with the dioceses is in the field of Vocations Promotion, and a number of international issues regarding Formation in the Order.
Brother Magnus Morhardt