A summer course for religious sisters began on Monday at one of Rome's Pontifical Colleges which examines the approach of religious congregations to attracting interest for new vocations. The course takes a look at vocational pastoral ministry in a changing world.
The official program for the July 19-24 "Animation Vocation"course promotes it as "a week of prayer, listening, exchange of international experiences, proposals for new strategies and planning."
Included among the variety of attention grabbing sessions within the six days of the course at the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolorum University are titles such as "From the internet to the convent" and "Vocation promoters among cosmetics and pubs." Of the latter, Italian media in recent days have run a variety of headlines, perhaps topped by Italian news agency TGCOM's "Sisters, between whiskey and make-up."
CNA spoke with a spokesperson of the University's Institute of Religious Studies, Dr. Laura Salvo, about the idea behind the course, which has drawn 100 religious sisters from more than 30 congregations worldwide.
She said that it takes a look at how congregations can get in touch with youth, adapting their vocational ministry to the contemporary world by meeting potential candidates on their playing field.
Dr. Salvo noted that they are making an effort to understand the "language" of the younger generation, transmitting values while recognizing the changes that have taken place. The modified approach, she said, "doesn't change values just the modality."
Changing the approach is important, she emphasized, especially in more developed nations where there are more distractions. She explained that "We're living a much stronger crisis in vocations (in Italy) than in other places" where the "consumerist" culture isn't as widespread and faith is "more at the center" of people's lives.
The official communique for the course promotes the returned enthusiasm to the consecrated life as "crucial" to the third millennium, describing the religious sister as "the bearer of the most characteristic values of human nature."