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Gemma Simmonds CJ (Ed.) A Future Full of Hope?

Gemma Simmonds CJ (Ed.)

A Future Full of Hope?

ISBN: 9781 8560 7762 0

Columba Press, Dublin, 2012, 150pp, £10.99

 Is there a future full of hope for the religious life?  This collection of essays, taken from talks given at a symposium at Heythrop College, address the question from various perspectives.  The essays are divided into three topics: the fundamental nature of religious life; the search for vocations; and the way forward.  All were interesting and involved in the debate, but I found the second section incredibly useful and practical; it was the only part which questioned young enquirers and novices and extensively gave concrete examples.

Each essay has been written by a different author covering a range of religious orders, including some well known names such as Christopher Jamison OSB.  The essays are generally rooted within Roman Catholic rhetoric, quoting the present and previous Popes and Vatican II regularly.  Overall the responses given in the book to the vocations crisis are dominated by what the Vatican perceives as the problem, rather than critically looking at ourselves, our churches and our societies.  Finally, each essay is concluded with a few questions which address vocational issues and these were wonderful.  I generally dislike such additions, but these were well thought out and help to address the issues presented effectively.

For Anglicans this book is useful, though extrapolation is required.  It articulates a lot of the issues currently being addressed regarding vocations and helps the reader to perceive the ‘real issues’ behind the problems.  It is a useful book for anyone involved in formation and vocations, but would ideally be used by a group or community in order to fully address the questions the book raises.  It thus demonstrates that the vocation crisis is truly a community issue and not just the problem of the vocation/novice guardian, which I consider the golden message of the book.

Christopher Martin N/SSF