Yesterday I returned home from a congregational European Vocations Forum in a small town north of Paris. A lovely meeting, with lots of energy and life, and a warm atmosphere to match the lovely weather! The theme of the meeting was Casting Fire: Towards a vibrant vocations ministry in Europe, and it was indeed a time of kindling our own and each others' fires. It was hard work though, especially for the three of us who were the organisers - but as the Pope said on Twitter after WYD, my joy is much greater than my exhaustion!
We sat quietly in a Cor Unum which spanned not only countries but decades and generations. The church was mostly empty except for us, one or two worshippers and some cleaners, noisily polishing the floor; in our corner, though, there was only stillness and gentle, prayerful silence. If there is such a thing as a contemplative bubble, that's what we were in. Even when a couple of RSCJ left, waving their goodbyes, or others of us got up to walk around the church or light a candle, there was barely a ripple in the stillness.
Last year, during our first planning meeting, we organisers spent some time here, confiding the meeting to Sophie's care. And now, after all the busyness and the vibrancy of the past few days it was a precious way to end my time in France, to give thanks for the meeting and - in that intense stillness - to pray for a truly vibrant, energetic vocations ministry in our Province and throughout Europe and beyond.