Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of encouragement to the second Latin-American Continental Congress for Vocations, which is being held in Cartago, Costa Rica, from January 31 to February 5, 2011. The first congress, organized by the Holy See and the Latin-American Confederation of Religious, was celebrated seventeen years ago, while the current gathering is the result of an initiative by bishops responsible for the pastoral care of vocations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
While Latin America has seen a large number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the Pope reminded the participants in the Continental Congress—which is being held in Costa Rica this week—that there remains an enormous need for more priests and religious in the region.
“Vocations are not the result of any human project,” the Pope observed. “At the deepest level they are a gift of God.” Therefore he recommended prayers for vocations, and reminded priests and religious that their joyful service can be an example and encouragement to young people. “This must be accompanied by the courage to propose to them, with delicacy and respect, the possibility that God may be calling them too,” he said.