The Francis Effect on Vocations

Posted: 9/10/2014

Pat McEntee, Glenmary's associate vocation directorI recently attended the annual J.S. Paluch Vocations Seminar in Chicago. This annual event brings together many Church and vocation leaders from across the United States and Canada to discuss issues pertaining to the promotion of vocations.

The overwhelming theme throughout this year's seminar was "The Francis Effect." The seminar began with a movie marking the first year of Pope Francis' papacy. And the discussions about Francis, as highlighted in the movie, pervaded the remainder of the conference. These discussions focused primarily on how Francis' impact is affecting Catholic vocations.

It's impossible to reflect on the past 18 months and not realize that something is different in the Catholic Church. Through Pope Francis, it seems that the Spirit has breathed a new life into the Church. But the question remains, how is this change affecting vocations in the Church and Glenmary?

At the seminar, those of us who work in vocation offices were asked to discuss how men in formation were reacting to Pope Francis. Since most of the men in Glenmary formation had already entered by the time Francis became pope, the main impact would be a greater zeal in the students as inspired by his example. Glenmary's newest class of students would be the only ones who could legitimately say they were inspired to join by the pope. But although Pope Francis may have had some impact on their pursuit of a vocation, their call was already taking effect before Francis was named pope.

In the years to come, however, we may be able to notice an increase in vocations due to the impact of Pope Francis. Certainly, the humble charism he is living out is very similar to that of a Glenmary Home Missioner. I think that his example of simplicity, poverty and evangelization will indeed trickle down and inspire more men to join Glenmary in the near and distant future.

Although his impact on vocations and formation may be too early to note, it is impossible not to notice that things are changing under Pope Francis. I can already identify an increase in e-mails and phone calls from prospects in the past year. Is it the Francis Effect? Or is it still too early to tell?

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, was the keynote speaker for the J.S. Paluch Seminar. Father Rosica is the chief executive officer of the Canada-based Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation, which produced The Francis Effect movie. The movie includes perspectives from various national media members as well as Church leaders. Father Rosica also serves as the English-language assistant to the Holy See press office—and was therefore involved in the transition from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis. His talk centered on some of the more subtle impacts Francis has made, concluding that the biggest impact has been his example of tenderness.

I would love to hear from you if your interest or consideration of a religious vocation has been influenced by the papacy of Pope Francis. If so, how? Are you being called to participate in mission, sharing your gift of tenderness with others? If so, please contact me at 513-881-7410.