(Manizales, Colombia) The First Congress of the Redemptorist Vocational Network was held in the city of Manizales from November 29 to December 1, 2019. The event was coordinated by vocation promoters: Fr. Daniel Benavides, Fr. Helí Ropero, and Bro. Nelson Pérez. They were assisted by the local community of Manizales. Frs. Jairo Díaz and Jaime Sepúlveda presided over the celebrations and Fr. Álvaro Mon Pérez organized and conducted the retreat.
Approximately 35 people from the Vocational Network took part in the Congress. They came from parishes: Our Mother of Perpetual Help of Popayán, St. Clement of Medellín, Holy Redeemer of Cúcuta, Our Lady of Lourdes of Manizales, Sacred Hearts and St. Bernardita of Bogotá.
As we organized the Congress, we wanted to bring together, strengthen and motivate the laity and to encourage them to bring their commitment to the Church, through vocational promotion. We sought to generate a sense of close belonging to the ecclesial community, which we build together, making our important contribution as the clergy or the laity. We wanted also to deepen a sense of unity with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer from which we can get our spirituality and the example of life and vocation of our Redemptorist Saints.
At the Congress the objectives of the Vocational Network were highlighted. They were presented as three form of involvement. One should:
1. Pray for vocations.
2. Promote vocations.
3. Support financially the formation of seminarians.
The themes of the meetings and workshops were focused around the objectives of the Congress and where presented as follows:
1. Commitment of the Laity in the Church.
2. Promotion of the Redemptorist Vocation: leadership and commitment of the laity.
3. The Vocation of the Redemptorist Saints.
4. Importance of networking.
5. Meaningful experiences that strengthen our work.
At the end, the participants were sharing their own experiences and could evaluate the experiences of the different networks in the country seeking to grow as a Vocational Network and consolidate the work done by the vocational promoters.
We thank the organizers, speakers and participants for the success of this First Congress of the Redemptorist Vocational Network. We are also grateful to the Province of Bogotá and its confreres responsible for vocational ministry for their support and motivation.
Luz Ángela Salamanca, Manizales Vocational Network