In cooperation with the Diocesan Vocation Directors in the Diocese of the Cashel & Emily Province, the National Vocations Office ran a Virtual Discernment Evening using Zoom on Tuesday 23rd March. This was the first time to do this “virtually” and it was very successful.
We had thirty men register for the evening. Nineteen of whom were from the Dioceses in the Cashel & Emily Province and the other ten men from other diocese throughout the rest of the country.
The program for the evening which lasted for 90 minutes comprised:
- Welcome (5 mins)
- Guided Prayer using Scripture (10 mins)
- Short Video of a Seminarian’s path to priesthood (3 mins)
- A short talk by a priest on his typical day and of his priesthood (15 mins)
- An input by a University Student on his prayer life and how to discern (15 mins)
- A video testimony by a newly ordained priest of his path to priesthood (8 mins)
- An input from a seminarian about his experience of Seminary (15 mins)
- Open Forum / Q & A (15 Mins)
- Closing Remarks / Prayer (Bishop Cullinan)
There was very positive feedback from a number of those who participated
“I wanted to express my gratitude and congratulations to you and the team for last night’s session. The choreography was superb, as were the invited speakers….. the good turnout last night I think was testament to the desire for men discerning a priestly vocation to meet as a community — thank you for addressing this.”
“I would like to pass on my thanks for organising the wonderful vocations evening. Myself and my friend (who is in the advanced stages of discernment) both thought it was an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding evening. The range of speakers was a perfect mix and I was struck by the high numbers!
“I really enjoyed the meeting, I feel as though I have learned a lot and have come to a better understanding of this vocation.”
Whilst a “virtual” event cannot be compared to a physical in-person retreat, the format of running something “virtually” over Zoom, was less intimidating for someone to participate, particularly if this were the very first step in exploring a vocation to the priesthood. This would explain why the numbers were high.
Based on this experience, it would be our hope to run another virtual “Come, Zoom and See” event in shortly after Vocations Sunday for the rest of the country.