Posted December 9, 2010
Website provides assessment survey to help people discern vocation
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Nine years ago, Natalie Smith thought something had to be done to reverse the vocations crisis.
Smith, a convert to Catholicism who had worked in marketing, felt like there had to be a way for the church to work more collectively to find potential vocations candidates. She was convinced there should be a database of candidates and also a wide range of resources available for people considering a vocation.
So she turned to the Internet.
In 2001, Smith and a group of others formed Vocations Placement Ministry in Coral Springs, Fla. The group received permission to use a vocational assessment survey developed years ago by priests and used in print form in Catholic high schools. Now the test is available online at www.testyourcalling.org.
Smith told Catholic News Service that the survey meets a need because once people take it, members of Vocation Placement Ministry will provide them with any information they need about nearby religious communities or dioceses and also will follow up with these candidates until they are finished with the discernment process.
Although the candidates themselves take the first step by taking the test, they are given guidance along the way. As Smith put it, the group helps people "who may not have the confidence to knock on the vocations director's door or not even know there is such a person."
She said the volunteers are simply "conduits of support."
In the past nine years, 30,000 have taken the vocations survey and more than 900 have reportedly applied or entered religious life after taking it, she said.
Smith said the online tool is in keeping with Pope Benedict XVI encouraging the use of new media. The test appears on Internet searches for vocations and will likely be promoted in future advertising campaigns.
She added that by being online, the vocations line tool casts a wide net, even reaching people who never previously considered a vocation.