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Marist Bulletin - Number 82


Brother Théoneste heads the Vocation Ministry Commission

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Brother Lluís Serra

Brother Théoneste Kalisa, 49, is a member of the General Council and President of its Vocation Ministry Commission. He was born in Rugari, Democratic Republic of the Congo, has served as District Superior in his home country, and earned degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology (Kinshasa) and Moral Theology (Rome).

These days, the idea of recruiting vocations must be a tough bone to chew on.
Vocations to the consecrated life have declined to the crisis point. The life of society and Church change very quickly, thus creating a new context for Consecrated Life. Our vocation ministry must be expressed in new and appropriate terms. The image of a bone to chew on is quite appropriate; reality is dry and hard, but it must be taken on resolutely.

The work you do, isn’t it something like marketing, albeit of a spiritual nature?
It’s difficult today to make our life as Consecrated Persons known and appreciated without using marketing terms which have invaded everything and which young people understand better. We borrow these terms to communicate with the young. But, every time we do, we have to dissipate possible misunderstandings and aim at what is essential. Marketing terms are insufficient to express the reality of our vocation, a domain where all is a gift.

What criteria do you use in discerning the vocation of a young man interested in becoming a Brother?
Our young candidate must show sufficient signs of a personal relation with Jesus and generosity in the service of others. However, in this matter we must avoid oversimplifying. The movements of the Spirit in each person are a secret between God and the person himself. Our criteria aim at being clear, but they must be applied with humility.

What is the so-called vocation crisis all about?
What is seen are the reduced numbers of professions and the massive numbers of departures. But reality is multiple and complex. Secularization and its consequences are a fact. The phenomenon of sects is a fact. The crisis in the family and the smaller number of children are a fact. Let’s also point to the crisis inside religious families.

Is there reason for optimism?
Yes. Young people today show a deep interest in the basis of Consecrated Life. On the one hand, the person of Jesus fascinates them – they talk about him and want to know more. On the other, they want to serve others, especially those most in need. Let’s note also that in certain parts of the Institute the number of Brothers is growing.

What topics will your commission be looking into?
The Commission will reflect on our new fields of apostolate and will try to contribute to responding to urgent situations. Our themes will be: Exchanges on vocation ministry in the Institute, Formation of the Brothers in charge of vocations, direct Invitation as a means of recruiting, and Accompaniment in the Marist vocation.

(FMS Marist Echo Maristes 43, March 2003)

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