by ROWENA OREJANA
Picture 12 religious women from different charisms in the Carmel College hall, each talking to a small group of year 12 students. After five to 10 minutes, each group moves to another religious to get to know her better.
This is “vocation speed-dating”, Carmel College style.
Carmel College director of religious studies, Sr Anna Nicholls, RSM, said
they had been looking for a way to engage the students into learning more
about religious life.
“Speed-dating” added a touch of novelty to the idea. And it worked.
“They were totally engaged. Eagerly listening. Despite the fact that we had
150 students in the hall and 12 religious who were talking, you could hear
a pin drop,” said Sr Anna.
Sr Anna said the students loved listening to the stories. “The ongoing question they were asking was: ‘How did you know this is what you are
called to?’” she said.
Vocation speed-dating is part of the vocations programme the school has
embarked on. Apart from religious, the students heard about the vocation of
marriage as well as single life.
“We just hope that by exposing them to a variety of vocations, they would really do some good discerning about what their vocation is and be open to the possibilities,” she said.
Sr Anna said she told the students that they may well be called to the vocation of marriage.
“[We hope] if that is what their call is, they would really be thinking about going into it as a sacrament and as a vocation, instead of just a happy ending. Even though we want it to be a happy ending, too,” she said.
Sr Anna said the programme is a response to Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn’s pastoral plan “Fit for Mission”.
“We really are articulating to our students what their call to mission is. And a lot of that is thinking about more than just what their career is going to be, but also thinking about what their vocation is and how they are going to contribute to the Church in the future,” she said.
The programme is also meant to highlight Pope Francis’s declaration of the Year of Consecrated Life, which starts on the first Sunday of Advent, the weekend of November 29, 2014, and ends on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life.
Sr Anna said they hope to make vocation speed-dating an annual event.
“Obviously, our students can’t become priests. However, one of the things
we’ve emphasised to the students is they need to support the vocation of
others as well.”