There is a crisis in religious vocation and formators in Cebu are hoping that by working together and reaching out to the young during this vocation month of February, they will be able to encourage more people to consider being a nun or priest.
There is a “crisis” in the decrease of the number of people who enter seminaries, said Fr. Christian James Mayol, the vocation director at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Mayol said during the launch of Vocation Month at the rectory of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral last Friday that the combined seminaries of the Archdiocese of Cebu – high school, college, and philosophy department – have a total of 177 seminarians. That number, he said, is fewer than even just the high school seminarians during his time in 2009.
Redemptorist Fr. Ferderiz Cantiller said that in his time in 1995, there were 40 to 60 college seminarians in his order. Now there are 6. Cantiller is the Provincial Vocation Promotions Director of the Redemptorist Province of Cebu and President of the Directors of Vocations in the Philippines (DVP) Cebu.
It’s also the same with the female religious, said Sr. Cecilia Tapang of Living the Gospel Community. Nuns are doing multitasking because there are fewer of them to do the work of their ministry and some have experienced burnout, said Tapang.
Cantiller said the sharp decline in the number of people who enter seminaries is a huge challenge for them to find “innovative ways of reaching out to the young people today.”
The Vocation Month in Cebu was launched last Friday with a mass led by Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Midyphil Billones. From February 5 to 10, the group will hold a “Taboan sa Bokasyon” on the streets surrounding the Carbon Public Market.
On these days, DVP Cebu members will talk to people about religious vocations. At the end of each day, an “Evening Chapel” will be held at Freedom Park. The activity will not necessarily be a mass but will be organized by the religious order tasked to be in charge on that day.
The month’s activities will culminate with the “Vocation Jamboree” on February 24 and 25 at the Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu.
Mayol said that unlike in previous Vocation Month celebrations, this year’s venue for the jamboree is smaller and could accommodate only 2,000 participants. This is the reason that they would require pre-registration with the parish or school. This is also why they will focus this year on getting participants from Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City.
What is important in discerning whether you are being called, Cantiller said, is that you have a relationship with the Lord and a habit of praying.
Tapang said that it is also important for people to listen and discern and not turn a deaf ear to the calling of the Lord.