05 Aug 2017
Everyone's job to promote vocations
Fr Josy Sebastian MSFS
By Lindy McNamara
Visiting parishes, youth groups and schools is all part of a day’s work for Fr Josy Sebastian MSFS who is the most recent addition to the Archdiocese’s Vocations team.
Appointed as director of the Vocations Office late last year – working in cooperation with the director of Vocations Fr Dean Marin – Fr Josy said he found “grassroots vocations” was the most efficient method for spreading the word about entering the priesthood or religious life.
“It’s all about going around to the parishes, youth groups, ecclesial youth movements and schools and talking about vocations and encouraging them to look into their way of life,” he said.
However, he stressed this work was not the sole responsibility of the Vocations team.
“I believe vocation preparation is the work of everyone, not only the work of the director, it is the work of the Archdiocese and everyone needs to get involved.
“It has been said that the vocations crisis of those called is also a crisis of those calling. If no-one calls, how can anyone respond?
“Parents, faithful, religious and priests are there to promote – it is the work of everyone,” he said, adding that the role of the Vocations office was to concentrate on the areas of promotion, accompaniment and assessment.
Based at the Noarlunga-Seaford parish, Fr Josy spends two days a week undertaking vocations work, drawing on his previous experience as the vocations provider for the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales in India.
Unlike Australia, India has no difficulty attracting men to the seminary and Fr Josy said it was common for those in professions, such as medicine and engineering, to come into the priesthood at an older age.
“In contrast, it’s a big challenge here. One of the biggest challenges facing the Australian Church is the shortage of candidates coming forward to the priesthood and religious life.
“There is a sharp decline in the number of seminarians studying which will have a terrific impact on the future shaping of our Church in Australia.
“Then there is the lack of the faith – people are getting away from the Church and we don’t have proper forums to foster vocations. This cultural change has an impact on the life of the Church.
“Priesthood and religious life need a context, a context of faith and practice, a context where they are understood, valued, and supported,” he said.
Fr Josy believed past scandals throughout the world involving the clergy had “poisoned the well” for many of the young.
“The scandals have had an impact too, but this cultural shift had begun before the scandals broke. They didn't cause it but they certainly didn't help…
“The material way of life for the young also makes it very difficult for them to make a choice – in the midst of plentifulness it is always tough,” he added.