Vatican to host 1,200 religious formation directors for conference

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Some 1,200 formation directors for Catholic religious orders from "every part of the world" will come to Rome next week to take part in a Vatican-hosted conference sharing ideas on how men and women considering religious life should be guided in their discernment.

The conference includes participation of three Vatican congregations and is the latest in a series of events to mark the Year of Consecrated Life, called by Pope Francis and being held through the beginning of 2016.

Among themes the Vatican said will be discussed at the event, to be held April 8-11 at a Roman hotel: how to be "men and women truly free" and how to "mature one's identity to be able to dialogue with all cultures and become ... prophetic sign of welcoming and communion."

The event will begin April 7 with a prayer vigil at the Rome parish of St. Gregory VII and will conclude April 11 with a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, celebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Vatican's religious congregation.

The final discussion at the conference will be a forum on giving formation an "inter-dicasterial vision" led by three Vatican officials: Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the religious congregation; and Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Vatican's religious congregation is formally known as the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Year of Consecrated Life, announced by Francis in January 2014, began Nov. 30, 2014, and will close Feb. 2, 2016.

The religious congregation has already hosted several events to mark the year, including a meeting in January between Catholic consecrated religious and those from other Christian traditions.

The congregation has also announced events for this September and December to focus on young men and women in the process of joining orders and for members of monastic orders, respectively.

The consecrated life year is to conclude in February with a theological symposium on religious life.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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