The Vocation Journal

Message of the Provincial 03.31.22

Dear Confreres,

When the provincials of the InterAmerican Region were meeting in Quito in February, Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez, the provincial from Guadalajara, gave us all a unique gift. It’s not unusual that the provincials share gifts—chocolates, key chains, pencils, etc. Fr. Filiberto gave us all journals, which he had also distributed to the confreres of his province. Each journal has a leather cover with a string to tie it closed. The pages of the journal are largely blank, so the confrere (or provincial) can write in them. Fr. Filiberto explained that this is a "vocation journal." We all feel the need for more vocations to Salesian religious life; our community plans always include a promise to pray for vocations, and we have a sense of gratitude for our Salesian vocation. However, when will we do something about vocations? That’s where the journal comes in.

On some of the pages of the journal, there are suggestions and reminders about practical ways Salesians can accompany young people toward vocational discernment. The Salesians are expected to write down what they plan to do and what they have actually done. By using this practical method of writing down our plans and actions in a small book, we are motivated to complete the actions and can hold ourselves accountable.

Here are few examples a Salesian might write in his journal:

"Tomorrow I will meet (name of a young adult) for coffee and invite him to Adoration at the parish."
"I texted the information about the Come and See Retreat to these young men..."
"I’ve accepted an invitation to share my vocation story with this class."
"I’ll be leading Lectio Divina with the students who went to the leadership retreat. We will use the resource prepared by the province vocations office."
"I am organizing prayer experiences and socials with recent alumni over the summer."

By writing down our plans and activities in the journal, we are more likely to move from talking about vocations to Salesian religious life to actually doing something about it.

On Thursday, February 17, I wrote that Lent, the "holy season of prayer, sacrifice, and charity is ideal for Salesians to provide more intentional spiritual accompaniment of young adults" in Salesian News. In the spirit of the vocational journal from Guadalajara, now is a good time to recall our plans and see what we have accomplished. With two weeks of Lent left, it’s not too late to do something, especially if it has a vocational dimension. Most young adults have a free schedule during the Paschal Triduum. Maybe we could invite young people in a personal way, not in a general way like a bulletin announcement, to join us at the services. We might invite them to stay after the liturgy and share their experience. We could text them the days and times for confessions. If our Holy Week schedule is already full, then we can make specific plans for the Easter season. Let’s not just talk about walking with the young on the spiritual journey toward vocational discernment—let’s do something about it.

Sunday, May 1 is Religious Brothers Day, a time to thank brothers for the witness of their vocation, to share the stories of religious brothers, and to invite men to consider becoming a religious brother. You will find resources prepared for previous Religious Brothers Days here, including prayer services, stories of brothers, and videos (one of them by our own Br. Rafael Vargas). Write down in your vocation journal, or add to the agenda of a community meeting, what you plan to do for this day.

In Christ, the Good Shepherd, who still calls us by name to follow Him more closely.

Fr. Tim Zak, SDB

March 31, 2022 - 7:00am
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