Vocational Discernment

This month we focus on Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. To this end, our vocations team have prepared various inputs which have, and will be, posted on our Facebook page throughout the month of April.

The following article, from the most recent edition of the Archdiocesan News, speaks about vocational discernment. It is worth a read!

The term Vocation has its roots in Latin, from the word vocare which means to call or to invoke. This call begins with baptism in the Catholic faith. As Catholics, we have two vocations, firstly a common vocation that we are all called to. Secondly, we have a unique vocation which is specific to each one of us. Firstly this shared vocation, which all of the followers of Christ share, is a call to holiness and to spread the Gospel through evangelisation.

Secondly, each individual is called uniquely and each person responds to that call differently. Some are called to serve in the ministerial priesthood, others embrace religious life while the laity are called to encounter God in their everyday lives, whether married or celibate.

Another important word not to be overlooked when talking about a vocation is discernment. Discernment, similar to vocation, originates from the Latin word Discernere which means to perceive or to distinguish. The discernment of a vocation is a process of perceiving and distinguishing one’s calling. It is like exploring one’s deepest desires implanted in one’s heart by God. Our strengths and interests can be viewed as gifts from God which constitute the deepest desire planted in one’s heart. Discernment looks at how God has called and shaped one and eliminates worldly distractions which derail one’s journey to discovering one’s vocation while focusing on one’s God-given gifts.

An important thing to bear in mind is that there is no such thing as a good or bad vocation. At the beginning of my journey to the priesthood, a journey which I am still currently on, I had to go to discernment classes. The priest who was conducting the workshop was the vocations director. He mentioned something that to this day I cannot forget. He said, “That all vocations are good on their own.” So it is not the case of choosing which vocation is good and which one is bad, but rather of discovering among the various good vocations which vocation is better for you.

In my personal experience, the journey of discovering one’s vocation is never wasted even if one discovers later that the vocation one has chosen is not the vocation one is called to. In a situation like that, although one has followed a particular path not in alignment with that seed planted deep inside one’s heart, one discovers what truly lies dormant and comes out with a better understanding and a clear picture of what God is calling one to do.
Another thing I should not neglect to mention is that my journey began out of curiosity. I just wanted to see what was happening in the seminary, as I heard many of the elders in my parish community speak about the need for priests and encouraged me to give it a go. I decided to give in after a while and began my journey.

Fast forward a few years and I am still here. I know many of my classmates who did the same, some are here while others discovered that their calling was slightly different than what they initially thought. Although I had the desire at a young age to be like my first parish priest, I did not fully realise this desire at the time I entered the seminary. When I realised it, I discovered that regardless of what my vocation was, going to the seminary was the correct decision. I felt that regardless of what my vocation was I would discover it by the end of the year. It is only then that one can decide on whether to continue or to leave if one’s vocation is elsewhere.

I grew exponentially in the space of a year which was a result of prayer, meditation and reflection. It felt like I lived 10 years in one year because the way I thought and my view on life changed drastically. By following the seminary programme, one not only learns about various prayer methods and mediation styles, but one discovers the deepest desire planted in one’s heart by God. In my experience, it is the only place where one can slow down, be silent without distractions, and be with God.

Brett Young
4th Year Theology

Parish Alive Summit 2024

On 17 February 2024, Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) leaders came from the four corners of the Archdiocese of Cape Town to attend the Parish Alive Summit held at Our Lady Help of Christians in Lansdowne. What a gathering and what a sense of unity and joy with almost 500 people from 73 parishes/churches present!

On 19 November 2022, Parish Alive was launched, so this was a celebration of the first anniversary of Parish Alive in the Archdiocese. There could not be a more appropriate name for this movement because the overall spirit of the Summit was that our parishes are alive with the Holy Spirit and a hunger to bring the Kingdom of God into the local communities. Our faith is alive, our church is alive. Each parish is unique and has its own journey to travel. But what the Parish Alive Summit showed is the great unity shared by all. Love and commitment to our faith strongly binds us together.

The Summit’s opening liturgy was led by and presided over by Cardinal Stephen Brislin. The roof of the church was certainly raised as everyone joined in the opening hymn “Here in this place, a new light is shining”. The theme of the opening liturgy could be summarized in the reading of Phil 2:1-4, which speaks of unity and of being in one spirit, and of one mind. In his address, the Cardinal spoke about synodality which, he explained, lies at the foundation of the Church. The synodal process is unique and is deeply spiritual, rooted in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. The Servant Song concluded the opening liturgy with the powerful words “Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?” reminding us of Christ’s example of servant leadership that we are called to follow, especially in our roles as parish leaders.

Father Zane Godwin’s talk was entitled ‘An Invitational and Welcoming Church and Making the Most of the Weekend experience.’ The essential identity of the Church is to be missionary – through our baptism we are all called to be missionary. Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of The Gospel, speaks to this nature of the Church. Fr Zane spoke of a church that involves all and needs to be outward focused. Indeed, the church is one of the few organizations that exists for the people who are not members. Naturally the church needs to minister with love and care to all its members, but we should be inspired and challenged to invite others to share and participate in the good news. It should even disturb us that so many do not have what we have – a relationship with Jesus. For many, being missionary, going out and being invitational is challenging. So how do we create opportunities for being invitational? We should not underestimate the power of the individual who simply invites others – something good is going on here, come and see. Once we have invited people to come, we need to be sure that they have something to come to, a great reception – a welcoming church. We need to practice radical hospitality and from the moment a person arrives at the church, they should experience the love and warmth of a Christian community where everyone (not just the few) is engaged in hospitality. The Mass is the source and summit of our faith – it is the high point of the Christian life and it should be our deepest desire to share it with others. The weekend experience is what the majority of people experience in the Church and so it should be our priority to make it the extraordinary experience it rightfully should be, so that it has the greatest impact on people. (Also see Theology Today on page 6 in the AD News). Fr Zane introduced youth leader, Claudio de Sousa, who gave a powerful testimony of how the youth have responded to a welcoming invitational church in St John’s, Maitland.

One of the highlights of the Summit was the breakout session. Almost 60 groups each with six people randomly assigned gathered to talk about three questions: What a newcomer arriving for Mass for the first time or the first time in many years might realistically experience; What concrete things can we start doing to make our parishes more mission-oriented; and How we can actively engage long-time, regular parishioners in ministry and mission. The hall was buzzing with lively discussion, and we are thrilled that, with everyone’s help, we captured the results – which will be shared.

Nqobile Ngobo’s talk was about ‘Missionary Disciples’. She developed the definition of a disciple as someone who has a transformational encounter with Jesus, surrenders to him and follows him. We are called to imitate Jesus. When our lives are transformed, we transform our parishes. As Peter stepped out of the boat in faith to follow Jesus, so too does Jesus call to us saying ‘come’! Pope Benedict XVI said that ‘evangelization is to teach the art of living’. And so, from disciples we become missionary disciples – we transform ourselves and in turn our parishes. And ‘Like Jesus with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, so the Church becomes the travelling companion of people.’ (Pope John Paul II)

In the panel discussion, the theme of being missionary and evangelizing was further explored by the different speakers who talked about the important role of youth in our parishes (Dominique Yon); how we can evangelize in our everyday life, in the home, at school, in the workplace (Nqobile Ngcobo); the benefits of Parish Alive (Nick Bickell); and the way in which music in the church is deeply spiritual and touches the soul in a unique and special way (Alison Dunn).

The Summit fittingly ended with Benediction, celebrated by Bishop Sylvester David OMI. Bishop Sylvester summarized impressions of the day. Without a doubt the message of the day is that the Church is missionary and just as the apostles were called to be with Jesus and then sent out, so we too must do the same. It is about mission and we are called to do beautiful things for God. He said that in the Church there are no spectators, we need to be active participants. Bishop Sylvester ended with a hopeful message that we can see what hope God’s call has for each person. (Read Bishop Sylvester’s talk in his From the Book column on page 11 in the AD News).

And with this message we were sent….

Karen Parkin
Parish Alive Team Member and PPC Chair of Constantia Parish

Archdiocesan News 1 of 2024

HOT OFF THE ‘DIGITAL PRESS’: In this edition: Parish Alive Summit 2024; Youth Empower Conference; Liturgical Music Training; Spiritual Accompaniment Course; Priests focus on Synodal Priesthood; Respond-ing to Disaster; Uplifting Revival Day at St Monica’s; Cardinal celebrates with the Diocese of Manzini and the Diocese of Kroonstad; Children Celebrating Liturgy; Kolping knitting and crochet marathon; St Joseph’s wins Best NGO award for 2024; Vocational Discernment; Engaged Encounter celebrate 50 years; No Greater Love; An Utterly Broken Visa Regime.


Archdiocesan News 4 of 2023

IN THIS BUMPER EDITION: The making of a Cardinal; Reminiscences and Reflections from Rome; On the Red Carpet; Food Insecurity – How to address it through parish programs; 100 years of Stella Maris; Retrouvaille at Century City; A Phoenix’s Rise; Dominicans celebrate 160 years in SA; Bellville Unity Mass; The Pontifical Mission Societies & Holy Childhood; Spirituality and Discernment; Homelessness; Focus on Catechetics; Youth at the APC

Caring for our Common Home

On this feast day of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment, we celebrate the works of God our Creator. As the Season of Creation comes to a close we are encouraged to continue the good work begun during this time – making our earth a common home for all God’s creatures. To keep Laudato Si’ and the environment foremost in our minds we are encouraged to visit this page from our most recent Archdiocesan News.

Archdiocesan News 3 of 2023

HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS: Consistory and Thanksgiving Mass to be live-streamed; three new Deacons ordained for Cape Town; World Youth Day 2023; On the Red Carpet…; Overwhelmed by generosity…; Book of Tributes launched in honour of ‘Reluctant Prophet’ Albert Nolan OP; Catechist Alive!; The Letter Screening and Laudato Si’; A Vocation Story; Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee; Rosary Week turns 21; Mimosa Shrine turns 50; Therapeutic Art; Portuguese Festival; Not me, Father!; The Multi-Party Charter – a viable option?; The 2023 Zimbabwe Elections: Local and Regional Implications.

AD News 3 of 2023

CPLO Briefing Papers, Digests and Responses

The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) is an office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), housed at the Chancery, Cape Town. It is the official vehicle for contact and dialogue between the Catholic Church in South Africa on the one hand, and the country’s Parliament and government on the other. It provides an avenue for the Church – as part of civil society – to contribute to debates on issues of public policy, to exert an influence for the common good in areas of political, economic and social concern, and to help shape legislative and policy developments.

Below is their page in the most recent edition of the Archdiocesan News, with hyperlinks to papers and articles for your benefit.

Fazenda da Esperança opens in Elsie’s River

FROM AD NEWS 2 OF 2023: A wonderful day of celebration was had on 13th May as Archbishop Stephen Brislin officially opened the Fazenda da Esperança Rehabilitation Centre in Elsie’s River. It was the perfect day for the opening of a centre for women (and their children), coinciding with the feast of Our Lady of Fatima when Our Lady appeared to three vulnerable children. The Centre is located in the former Nazareth House for the Elderly, which the Nazareth Sisters very generously donated to the Archdiocese of Cape Town so that social outreach work could continue there for the benefit of the community. Many of the Nazareth Sisters were in attendance at the opening to witness the start of a new chapter in the life of this well-known building in the community.

We were also blessed to have in attendance the two founding members of Fazenda da Esperanca who travelled all the way from Brazil to attend the opening in person. Fazenda da Esperança was founded by Lucilene Rosendo and Iraci Leite in Brazil in 1983. Since then, it has become a worldwide program which helps people to overcome substance and alcohol addiction through its three pillars of Spirituality, Community Life and Work. The first South African Fazenda project opened in Bethlehem five years ago and the Cape Town centre is the second centre in South Africa and the first for women (and their children). It was a busy week for Fazenda as a third Fazenda project opened the same week in Rustenburg, so we wish that project many successes as it begins its journey at the same time as the Cape Town project.

The Centre opening began with the celebration of Holy Mass by Archbishop Brislin in St Clare’s parish church, which was concelebrated by eight priests who have all played a part in guiding and supporting Fazenda in its journey so far. The congregation was treated to a beautiful display of dancing by a local children’s group, following which the Archbishop cut the opening ribbon and blessed the premises.

Cake and refreshments were served followed by music and dancing, setting the tone for the joyous occasion that it was. So many people gave their time, resources and energy to make the day a great success. Four parishes who had partaken in the Caritas Cape Town ‘Sponsor a Room’ Program (Sea Point, Constantia, Brackenfell and Lansdowne) provided support that went above and beyond the rooms that they sponsored. The local parishioners of Elsie’s River provided tremendous support to the Fazenda team as well as the newly formed Fazenda Board of Trustees. In addition, many others have provided food, advice and support to the Fazenda team since their arrival in February.

Fazenda hopes to accept ladies into its program in the coming weeks. These will be ladies who suffer from addictions such as drugs and alcohol and who are willing to commit to a God centred one-year residential program to address their addiction. More details about the program can be found by contacting the Cape Town Fazenda Project Manager, Jordana do Amaral.

We wish Fazenda da Esperança many blessings and success as it begins its journey in Cape Town. We know that they cannot do this alone and so we appeal to those who would like to donate their time, items, money or skills to this worthy cause to contact Project Manger Jordana do Amaral at 063 850 5123 (email: causjordana@gmail.com).
The webpage from Brazil is in Portuguese but it can be easily translated by right-clicking the black bar at the top of the page, which will show you the translation options.

Aisling Foley
Caritas Co-ordinator

Archdiocesan News 2 of 2023

HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS: In this edition: Celebrating the Joy of Life and Ministry; Book Launch – Reluctant Prophet – Tributes to Albert Nolan OP; Youth Events and Ministry; Salesian Youth Retreats; Pilgrimage from Kommetjie to Schoenstatt; Fazenda da Esperanca opens in Elsie’s River; Catechetics – Snapshots from our workshops and events; Justice & Peace Programmes on offer; Winter Living Theology: Our Bible with Fr David Neuhaus SJ; Vocations Feature: My Internship Experience; Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Resources; Archbishop awarded Doctorate; Lady R: Subterfuge or Just Asleep at the Wheel?; The Value of Waste-Pickers; St Kizito stands up to violence.

AD NEWS 2 OF 2023

Caritas Parish Programme Support

FROM AD NEWS 1 OF 2023: Caritas Cape Town (CCT) provides advisory, capacity-building and, where necessary, financial support to effectively aid parishes of the Archdiocese of Cape Town to initiate welfare and development programs or projects in their local communities.

In August 2022, CCT and the parishes of St Ignatius, Claremont and St Bernard’s, Newlands collaborated to assist pregnant women in disadvantaged communities. CCT had 25 wicker Moses baskets and disposable nappies available which it wished to donate to a local community. The parishioners of St Bernard and St Ignatius very generously raised enough money to buy baby products to put in each of the baskets and also added a hand-knitted blanket and prayer for each of the babies.
CCT was keen to present these baskets as part of an important health message around the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy may lead to the baby being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which results in permanent brain damage, for which there is no cure. South Africa has the highest rate of FASD in the entire world.

CCT decided to join hands with the Zoe Project, a local NGO which provides maternal health care services to vulnerable women throughout their pregnancy journey. In October/November 2022 workshops were given to 25 pregnant mums as part of the Zoe Project pre-natal program at Lavender Hill and Retreat. At the end of each workshop the baby baskets were presented to the mums as a blessing for the forthcoming birth of their baby.

CCT would like to thank the parishioners of St Bernard and St Ignatius for their generosity in supporting this program, and in particular the PPC Community Engagement leaders in both parishes – Pat Rother and Angie Bruni-Morgenrood.
CCT was delighted to be part of a parish program that may impact the lives of children, even before they are born. We wish the Zoe Project and the mums many blessings for themselves and their new babies.

In the coming weeks and months CCT hopes to meet and work with the newly elected PPC Community Engagement leaders of all parishes. We foresee that there will be many parish projects and programs which will change lives in the course of 2023 and beyond.
For further information about Caritas Cape Town, please contact CCT Co-ordinator Aisling Foley at coordinator@caritas.capetown or 069 126 4841.