Monday, May 9, 2011

Toowoomba’s Rousing Vocations Pitch

“We remain committed to actively promoting vocations to the current celibate male priesthood,” the now-removed Toowoomba Bishop William Morris wrote after he indicated, “we may well need to be much more open towards other options for ensuring that Eucharist may be celebrated.”

Sound like he was more interested in “other options” rather than encouraging legitimate vocations to the priesthood? Let’s look.

If you visit the website of the Diocese of Toowoomba hoping to explore a call to the priesthood, you will find there are eight main navigation buttons on the site. If you click the “Ministry” button, you’ll get a drop-down menu with four new categories to choose from. Not sure which one to click? Click “Pastoral” and you’ll get another drop-down menu with eleven new choices. Listed after options for:

Pastoral Formation
SPRED
James Byrne Centre
Lourdes Home
Diocesan Tribunal
State School Apostolate
Pastoral Care

You will finally see the option for “Vocations”. For all your effort and brilliance in counter-intuitive web navigation, you’ll be rewarded with this rousing pitch:

Where is your life going? Are you feeling unsettled, bored, disappointed with your life so far?

Maybe the Catholic Priesthood is for you! God may be calling you to follow him as an ordained priest or as a religious brother or sister! Have you ever seriously considered the Priesthood or Religious Life as being a viable option for you?

Full Stop. A few boring notes on process follow, but that’s the end of the pitch. There are no links, no pictures, no seminarian profiles, no vocation stories, no priest testimonials, no letter from the bishop, no resources for discerning a call, no prayers, not even an email – just a phone number and a message that boils down to “Depressed? Call us.”

Now, certainly, a website does not represent the full force of a diocesan vocation effort. Our vocation team members – beginning with the bishop – spend their time in the field, magnifying their own efforts by helping to create and sustain a “culture of vocations,” and consequently, we currently have 25 seminarians.

There is a reason why some dioceses have many seminarians, while others have none. It is not the intransigence of Rome on the question of ordaining women.