“A vocation is the providential thought of the Creator for the creature, it is His idea-plan, the dream found in God’s heart because the creature is found in His heart.”
(In Verbo tuo – Final document of the European Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life in Europe)
The Vocations Group (VG) was set up by young, lay, Catholic women to support one another as they discerned their vocation in life, especially with regards to consecrated life. Monthly meetings were held at Westminster Cathedral , with guest speakers talking on a variety of vocational issues.
Initially a group of friends came together in May 1999 for a one-off meeting to discuss their vocational journeys. The support and encouragement gained from simply being together, praying, listening and sharing with one another led to a desire to continue meeting. Thus, further meetings were planned and an established pattern of evening prayer, teaching from an invited guest speaker and informal time together came into being. At the outset it was a group for young women but the increasing number of young men asking for similar support meant that the group was opened to them also in Nov 2004.
Talks included prayer, discernment, choice-making, community, marriage, etc; religious and priests. Occasional social outings were also held, as well as weekend retreats. Numerous young people felt the benefit of the VG over the years, in particular the freedom to come along whenever they felt it helpful. It is widely acknowledged that in today’s society seeking one’s vocation can often seem isolating, especially as a young person considering devoting her/his life to Christ in one form or another. Members were encouraged, after attendance at several meetings, to begin a parallel journey of vocational discernment with spiritual directors of their choice.
The monthly meetings were attended by about fifteen to thirty young adults, with over 650 having attended the group over the years. All concerned were surprised by the unexpected response from Catholics and Christians from other denominations and felt that this indicated a real need for informal support amongst young people trying to discern their vocation.
This was the first such group to be established in the country and we were overjoyed at the increase in the number of such groups as well as Samuel Groups that subsequently developed in many more dioceses. This original Westminster Group was handed over to the Vocations Director of Westminster Diocese in 2014 but has since changed format and no longer assists all young people in a 360 degree vocational discernment.
“Heralds of the Gospel are needed, who are experts in humanity, who have penetrated the depths of the hearts of men and women of today, who share their joys and hopes, their anguishes and sorrows, but who are at the same time contemplative, in love with God. The saints were the great evangelisers of Europe. We must beg Our Lord to instill the spirit of sanctity in the Church, and send us new saints to evangelize the world of today.
(Pope John Paul II)
The original website for the Vocations Group is being renewed at this time and will be launched in due course. It will provide resources for anyway searching for God’s dream for their lives.