The delegates of the 34th General Congregations, in the decree below, declare further vocations are necessary for the fulfillment of the mission of the Society of Jesus and urge “all our companions to work vigorously” for them. The responsibility for this work falls on “each Jesuit and each Jesuit community.” The decree observes that vocation does not imply a vocation to the Society but rather simply…helping young people hear and respond to the stirring of the Spirit in their hearts.” With at times “special sensitivity and encouragement,” all Jesuits were to encourage vocations wherever they might be.
For more from the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.
1. The Society of Jesus cannot fulﬁll its mission without further vocations. General Congregation 34 therefore calls on all our companions to work vigorously for vocations. Clearly, a vocation is a gift from God, and no human effort can replace the action of the Spirit. Nonetheless, God uses human instruments. Each Jesuit and each Jesuit community must take responsibility for ensuring that we can carry out our mission in the years to come.
2. Our mission and spiritual heritage make us all promoters of vocations; vocation promotion simply means helping young people hear and respond to the stirrings of the Spirit in their hearts. Naturally, vocation promotion does not necessarily produce a vocation to the Society of Jesus. It leads to various types of a Christian response, and we must carefully respect the particular way in which the Spirit calls each person. At the same time, young people can only choose what they know and love. Every Jesuit and every Jesuit community must do everything possible actively to present the Society of Jesus to others in such a way that those whom God calls will know and appreciate who and what we are.
3. The quality of our lives as Jesuits gives a human image to God’s call. If we really expect vocations, we must examine whether our relationship with God, our communities, and our apostolates are what we profess them to be. Destructive criticism, bitterness, and even contempt for our way of life and the vows are devastating for those who might be considering a Jesuit vocation. Fortunately, most Jesuits are positive and lead lives of great ﬁdelity. Even so, many of us are too hesitant and too timid in offering what we have to others.
Does our prayer remain a secret except to ourselves, or do we talk about our experience of God, including its difﬁculties, with others and with our brother Jesuits? Do our communities remain mysterious to all except Jesuits, or are they open and welcoming to those who seek us? Do young people see us working together, sometimes struggling but still supporting one another, praying together? Does our apostolic zeal communicate itself to others, so that they, too, will want to commit themselves to God’s service?
4. We must promote vocations as widely as possible, so that we might reﬂect the culture and experience of those we seek to serve. With special sensitivity and encouragement, we need to seek possible vocations among minority cultures, immigrants, and indigenous people.
We recommend that Father General, after studying the experience of vocation promotion in the whole Society, write a letter on the practical aspects of promoting vocations to the Society.
Original Source (English translation):
Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st–35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, General Congregation 34, Decree 10, “The Promotion of Vocations,” pg. 594–595 [292–297].