TACLOBAN CITY– Catholic religious organizations have initiated a weeklong promotional campaign aimed at encouraging more individuals to join seminaries and convents, coinciding with this year’s vocation month celebration.

Catholic religious groups in Cebu City launched a weeklong promotional activity from February 5-10, 2024 to step up the vocation initiatives of the church amid the dwindling number of people who enter the seminaries.
(Contributed photo)

“We bring the presence of the Church to the marketplace as we find Jesus in the hearts of ordinary people there,” Fr. Ferderiz Cantiller, president of the Directors of Vocations in the Philippines (DVP) Cebu City chapter, said.

“All are invited to be Jesus’ friends. Let us pray for more vocations!” he added.
From February 5 to 10, 2024, various religious congregations and individuals congregated at the Carbon Public Market Freedom Park in Cebu, immersing themselves with everyday people in the street alleys to discuss the vocation needs of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

Cantiller, formerly assigned at the Redemptorist Church in Tacloban City, described the event as successful, stating, “it has achieved its goal in terms of promotion and information dissemination, raising awareness across a wider segment of society.”

“It may not have directly resulted in increased recruits joining the seminaries and convents. However, collectively, the DVP Cebu Chapter has sown seeds that would allow people’s hearts to open up to support the Catholic Church’s efforts in inviting young individuals to consider a religious calling,” Cantiller explained to Leyte Samar Daily Express.

“It was a battle to win people’s hearts to empathize with the concern about the current vocation crisis. We cannot achieve our goal in isolation; we can only do so together as a Church with the support of the people of God. Gathering people to pray for more vocations in the Church is already a noble achievement of the ‘Taboan sa Bokasyon (Market of Vocations),’” the priest added.

During the concluding mass on February 10, Monsignor Rogelio Fuentes, one of the vicars general of the Archdiocese of Cebu, stressed that the secret of vocation, as St. Paul said, is to “be imitators of me as I am of Christ.”

“Anyone who imitates Christ can also be attractive,” Monsignor Fuentes emphasized in his homily.

Father Christian James Mayol, the vocation director at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos of the Archdiocese of Cebu, previously acknowledged a “crisis” in the declining number of Catholics attending seminary schools in Cebu.

Supporting Father Mayol’s assertion, Father Cantiller stated that in 1995, the Redemptorist Order had between 40 to 60 college seminarians, which dwindled to only six in 2013.
Last year, four young boys were set to join as freshmen, but two withdrew, Cantiller lamented.

He attributed family pressure, socio-economic factors, and political issues as reasons why young people are not entering the seminary.

According to Cantiller, innovative approaches are needed to attract young Catholics to priesthood.

“The vocation is declining, but with active missionary presence, there will be vocations. I would like to believe, like the first disciples, they first got interested in Jesus’ works and deeds, and so they followed him,” said Father Cantiller, who recently traveled to the Samar Island provinces to engage in vocation work. (RONALD O. REYES)