Frequently Asked Questions
Where and when will the Third Continental Congress on Vocations be held?
In Montreal, from April 18-21, 2002. Congress meetings will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in the heart of downtown Montreal, and liturgies will be held nearby, in the city's major basilicas: St. Patrick's, Notre Dame, and Mary Queen of the World Cathedral.
Why were this location and these dates chosen?
Amidst many worthy candidates, Montreal was selected in view of its long and rich ecclesial history, its cosmopolitan and multicultural character, and the strong presence of the three main languages of the North American Church - English, French, and Spanish. As well, April 21, 2002 will be the 39th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and the Church throughout the world will be gathered in prayer to ask the Lord of the harvest to continue to call forth generous men and women to witness and service, especially in ordained ministry and consecrated life.
Who is organizing the event?
The Congress is being held at the invitation of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. It is the third such congress, following those for Latin America (Sao Paulo, Brazil: 1994) and Europe (Rome: 1997). The Canadian and American bishops' conferences have the principal responsibility for the event: they are working in close collaboration with the Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations (Rome), and with the religious leadership and both diocesan and religious vocation directors' associations of Canada and the U.S. As well, the Congress has an executive team of 20 members led by three bishops (Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Anchorage; Bishop Richard Grecco, London; Bishop Andre Rivest, Montreal), and whose membership includes religious sisters and brothers, religious and diocesan priests, deacons, secular institutes, lay men and women. The team is served by two co-chairs, Fr. Edward Burns of Washington D.C. and Fr. Raymond Lafontaine of Montreal, and by seven committee chairs who are coordinating programming, documentation, logistics, finance and fundraising, liturgy, communications, and regional and diocesan mini-congresses.
Who will be invited, and how many are expected to attend?
We expect there to be between 1000 and 1200 delegates attending the Congress from all over Canada and the U.S., with guests coming from Mexico, the Antilles, and from Rome. Because one of the goals of the Congress is to awaken the whole Church to its responsibility to promote and nurture vocations to the ordained ministry and consecrated life, there will be a wide sweep of invitees, including those both directly and indirectly concerned with vocations promotion: bishops, major superiors, religious and diocesan vocation directors, seminary and religious formators, deacons and members of secular institutes, seminarians, novices, the newly-ordained and recently-professed, parish priests, youth ministers, campus ministers, educators, young adults, parents, Serrans, Knights of Columbus, other lay associations that provide human, spiritual, and financial support to vocation efforts.
Why was the theme "Vocacion: Don de Dieu, Given for God's People" chosen?
The three languages used in the title represent the desire for unity in diversity in our approach to vocations ministry. It was also important to remember that a vocation is a call and gift from God, intimately personal, and yet always a gift for others, for the Church and for the world in which the Church serves and bears witness to Christ. It is a reminder that we find our vocation at the place where our own deepest desires and the deepest hungers of the world intersect.
What are the purposes of the Congress?
- To establish a positive environment within North America for promoting vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life.
- To unify and guide the Church in North America in its commitment to identify, discern and nurture these vocations.
- To welcome future workers to the harvest with hope.
- By celebrating vocations: there will be a strong component of prayer and liturgy.
- By engaging in serious theological and pastoral reflection on pertinent issues in contemporary vocations ministry, with particular attention to the gifts and challenges presented by our North American context, by the growing phenomenon of generational and cultural diversity, and by the world of young adults.
- By initiating, at the end of 18 months of consultation and four days of intense formation and dialogue, a concrete pastoral plan: capable of practical application in the diverse contexts of the North American Church?.
The four or five keynote addresses will address the following topics: The Theology of Vocation; North American Culture and its impact on the Vocations Climate; the Gifts and Challenges of Cultural Diversity; Today's Young Adults: How Are They a Future Full of Hope?; Vocations for the Mission of the Church. Conference Presenters will include Fr. Donald Senior, CP; Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI; Sr. Mary Johnson, SNDdeN; and Fr. Gilles Routhier of Laval University.
There will also be at least a dozen workshops on vocation-related topics, including vocational discernment, cultural diversity, testimonials of young priests and religious, vocations to the diaconate and alternative forms of consecrated life, new religious communities and movements, youth and young adult movements, the use of media and Internet in vocations promotion, images of priesthood and religious life in popular culture, promoting vocations in parish and family life, and many others. Individual workshops will take place in English, French, and Spanish, and simultaneous translation will be available for the keynote addresses.
Congress liturgies will also reflect the multicultural and multilingual character of the North American Church.
Will youth and young adults be present?
We want young people to participate actively in the Congress at all levels. At least 100 young adults from across the continent will be invited to participate, as well as others who are involved in youth and campus ministries, or who have already begun formation programs towards religious life or priesthood. As well, the closing liturgy, to be held at Notre Dame Basilica on 21 April 2002, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, will highlight in various ways the presence and gift of young people in the Church, and our confidence that they will carry the Church with courageous and imaginative faith into the Third Millenium.
How can we get more information about the Congress?
We hope to have the Congress website up and running in the near future. Our address will be: "http://www.vocations2002.org". As well, in the autumn of 2002, we will be organizing, through local diocesan and religious vocation offices, half-day sessions in which members of the local Church can come together to reflect on the future of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life in their diocese, religious community, or region. All this information will be gathered and sent to the Congress facilitators and executive team, so that the voice of as many people as possible may be heard and taken into account in the pastoral orientations that will follow after the Congress.
For further information, you may contact Fr. Edward J. Burns, Executive Director, Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC, (202) 541-3033 or Fr. Raymond Lafontaine at Le Centre Vocationnel, 7400 boul. St-Laurent, Montreal, H2R 2Y1, (514) 271-5659.