"Vocational sowing consists, basically, of the joyful proclamation of life as a vocation" (1/3)
Originally from The Chapel of Guadalupe, a town located in the Altos de Jalisco, Mexico, Fabián Martín Gómez entered the Postulancy program in Saint Pius X of Querétaro in 1997, studied Philosophy in the Postulancy of Saint Augustine of Mexico City, moved to Spain to perform the novitiate in Monteagudo (Navarra) and the first course of the theological studies in Marcilla (Navarra). He continued the study of Theology at the San Agustín de Los Negrales Theological Center in Madrid, residing in Las Rozas (Madrid). After being ordained a priest in 2008, he was sent to Rome to study specialization at the Pontifical Salesian University. He currently resides in the Vocational House and College of. Fray Luis de León de Querétaro (Mexico). From here he coordinates the Secretariat of Youth and Vocational Pastoral of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine.
After the presentation of Fabian, who has been devoted entirely to vocational pastoral care for several years, we entered directly into conversation with him.
How long - and where - have you been performing the office of promoter/vocational animator?
I started the service of animation of vocations for the ministries of Spain in 2011, with residence in Las Rozas (Madrid). And, at the same time, I took over the coordination of the vocations pastoral section of the Secretariat of Vocations and Youth of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine. In 2015 I was appointed master of the novices for the international novitiate of Monteagudo (Navarra, Spain). After a couple of years, I returned again in 2017 to the service of pastoral animation of vocations; now as a vocations promoter and coordinator of the Secretariat of Vocations and Youth of the Vicarage of Mexico and Costa Rica. In 2018 the provincial prior asked me to take over again the coordination of the Secretariat of Vocations and Youth of the Province of Saint Nicholas, a service that I have been providing to date.
What is your work as a vocational promoter/animator?
There are many and varied entrustments that a vocation animator and a vocational promoter have; I will refer to the fundamentals.
First, the vocational promoter promotes in local communities the commitment of all in the service of the animation of vocations, so that the realization of "vocational culture" is increasingly feasible. To this end, together with the local community and vocational team, it organizes the celebration of vocational weeks, the delivery of vocational catechesis with children, young people and adults. It also participates in meetings on parish councils or the boards of education, with the aim of raising awareness of vocational culture and, in coordination with the religious community and vocational team, proposes and supports the vocational activities that are organized during the year.
Secondly, the vocational promoter carries out vocational planting in all the contexts in which he becomes present. Vocational planting consists, basically, of the joyful proclamation of life as a vocation and that we all have the task of discovering what to do of good, dignified and beautiful with our own lives. It is announced that we all have a vocation and talk about those vocational attitudes in the background - silence, listening, admiration, openness of heart, etc.- that allow the person to put himself on the path of seeking what God dreams for him. In this sense, the heart of vocational planting has much to do with enabling a living encounter with Christ, the Lord.
Thirdly, the animation service of vocations carried out by the promoter is oriented to the accompaniment. In this sense, he is thoroughly committed to the processes of vocational search and discernment of all those young people who embark on a path to discover the call that God makes to them. This accompaniment is concrete in the realization of vocational coexistences, vocational retreats, periodic interviews, application of tokens, visit to families, being with them in some mission experience, etc.
We must add to all this another important task of the promoter of vocations: to promote and consolidate the institutional structures (local, regional and provincial), which are necessary for the animation of vocations, that is, to form and train the local vocational teams or, at least, to provide instruments for their own formation, to organize meetings and to have retreats with them.
It is also the responsibility of the promoter of vocations to apply, continue and evaluate the Project of Life and Mission of the Province with regard to youth and vocational pastoral care; to participate in diocesan structures of vocational pastoral care in the Diocese in which it resides and, finally, to publish content, whether printed or digital, to spread the world of vocational, which is increasingly booming in the websites and social networks of the Province.
What specific training should a vocational promoter, counselor or pastoral vocations agent have? In the case of the Province, what specific training actions have there been or will there be for it?
Any training and training of vocational agents is very useful and necessary for the service of animation of vocations. We must spare no effort in this. It is not enough to have a good willingness for the ministry of animation of vocations, it is necessary to do so with competence and professionalism, since much is at stake, namely: to accompany the way of seeking the happiness of the disciples of Jesus, the Christ.
However, it is true that in our Province there is a shortfall in formation with regard to vocational promoters – most of us take over without any specific preparation – as is also true that some of the vocational promoters, once involved in the field of pastoral care of vocations, seek, according to their time and possibilities, those formations that they urgently need. The problem is that the urgent sometimes prevents them from choosing what's important.
I consider that ideally, vocation promoters should receive specific training before entering pastoral practice. However, as you do what you can with what you have, once you assume the ministry of animation of vocations, it is important that you have the time and resources to be formed.
This specific training would have to provide the promoter with vocations, at least a basic knowledge about the theology of vocation - biblical, anthropological, ecclesiological foundations, etc.- pedagogies for accompaniment, some basic notions of psychology - conscious and unconscious motivations, clear references related to the world of affectivity, dynamics of needs and desires, techniques for self-knowledge, etc. - and knowledge and practice of spiritual discernment.
As for the local counselors and the lay members of the vocational teams, a great effort is being made, both in the Order of Augustinians Recollects and in the Province of Saint Nicholas, a great effort to offer training, even in a charismatic line. In some demarcations of our Province, many of the members of the vocational teams have received the "Basic Course of Vocational Pastoral Care", "Basic Vocational Accompaniment Course" and "Basic Course of Vocational Discernment". Likewise, training has been offered to know how to be present as vocational agents in the digital society.
Those who have been able to participate in these training spaces thank them infinitely. However, much remains to be done in this regard in other demarcations of our Province, especially where vocational teams were worked.