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This is not the time for lamentation. Right now, our Catholic Church has a painful lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and this we can see not only in our area but also in developed and traditionally Catholic countries. Is it possible the Holy Spirit is the one pushing the strings?

Have we not said many times that God is the only one who can write straight with crooked lines? Why not think that it is the same Spirit that is leading the Church towards a new future, in which the laity regain their baptismal status as protagonists and take on a leading role in the new evangelization? This is a hypothesis that should not be dismissed with skepticism or ironic smiles. In any case, nothing is lost by acting under that assumption, and I think it should be done urgently.

The Church itself has already taken some important steps that can be the foretaste of a future not far away. They have already ordained married men of proven virtue as permanent deacons, and prepared them theologically. But what have we Vincentians done so far to prepare our brothers for possible ordination as permanent deacons? Why not consider a permanent Vincentian diaconate?

This is not pure imagination. We can do it and we should start now. These signs of the times constitute a call for our young Vincentians. We have the secular potential. Let us be lucid and prepare our brothers to be authentic evangelizers, protagonists in our pastoral services; let us create schools of catechists and evangelizers. We cannot abandon our parishes and our primary pastoral responsibilities to the good will of priests and sisters overwhelmed with work and age.

This does not mean that we set aside our responsibilities as Vincentians, to visit needy families in their homes and to give them material help according to our possibilities. But we must see beyond momentary aid. We must heal destroyed homes, taking the word of God along with our material help, and teach them to be patient in asking God.

In some cases, we will have to find people young enough to animate and energize our Vincentian conferences. Some less developed countries I have visited are leading us in this and it is important that we learn from their positive experiences in order to bring those to our churches in South Florida.

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