News

Sydney Archdiocese Welcomes New Vocations Promoter

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
6 Jan 2015

The Archdiocese of Sydney's new Vocation Promoter, Peruvian-born Lorena Portocarrero

Young people are searching for answers and purpose to their lives, and it is through the joy of faith and God's love that they will discover their vocation and become what they were created for, says Lorena Portocarrero, the newly-appointed Vocations Promoter for the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The Peruvian-born 29-year-old is also the Superior of Sydney's Marian Community of Reconciliation, or Fraternas as members are frequently known, and says she is happy and humbled by her new role.

"I have always admired the work of the Archdiocese's Vocations Centre and I am very excited and grateful to be given the opportunity to be part of their mission," she says.

The Director of the Archdiocese's Vocations Centre, Father Michael de Stoop is equally delighted.

"If Lorena brings as much inspiration to those who are exploring their vocations as the amount of energy she brings into the room at the Vocations Centre, then I am sure many people will benefit immensely from her joyful witness," he says.

Fr Michael cites "Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry," laid down by the Vatican in 2012, which states that bishops have the task of ensuring youth pastoral ministry and vocations pastoral ministry be entrusted to priests and others who are capable of transmitting, with enthusiasm and with the example of their lives, the joy of following the Lord Jesus in the school of the Gospel.

Father Michael de Stoop, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Sydney

"Lorena Portocarrero certainly fits this description," he says and is convinced that with her training and experience in providing spiritual direction, she is especially well-suited to assist him in preparing and running vocation discernment retreats for men and women.

"She  has the kind of perception required to sense the interior movements of the Holy Spirit in the young people of Sydney, and to guide others as well as they seek assistance to discover their identity and mission in Christ," he says.

Lorena replaces Sister Anthony Mary Diago rsm who was Vocations Promoter with the Archdiocese from 2010 until September last year when she returned to the US to take over as Director of Consecrated of Life at the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona.

Appointed last month by the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher, Lorena spent two weeks working closely with Fr Michael and the staff at the Vocations Centre before heading home to spend the Christmas and New Year break in Peru with her parents, sister and brother as well as spending time at the Fraternas' Mother House with what she calls "my other family."

"Our community is a Society of Apostolic Life and is only for consecrated women. We belong to to a larger spiritual family which shares the same charism and includes consecrated brothers and sisters and also lay men and women of all ages, called the Sodalit Family," she explains. "As Fraternas we are consecrated to God but unlike nuns, we are not religious sisters. We are consecrated laywomen who have made perpetual promises of obedience, celibacy and detachment from temporal goods. By remaining lay women, we are able to live in the midst of the world where we seek to evangelise and bring the joy of the Gospel to the heart of society."

As part of their mission to work and live in the midst of the world, Fraternas are trained in a variety of professions which include psychologists, journalists, theologians, historians and linguists. 

Lorena (second right) with other Fraternas from the Archdiocese of Sydney on a trip to Melbourne last year

Lorena who completed a degree in behavioural science at the University of Notre Dame Sydney and is currently studying for a Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies, is quick to point out that the community is not just for consecrated women.

"We also have women lay members," she says.

Founded by Peruvian layman, Luis Fernando Figari in Lima, Peru in 1991, in addition to the Mother House in Lima, there are now thriving Fraternas communities throughout North and South America, Britain, Europe and many parts of Asia.

Sydney's community was established in 2006 when the then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell invited members to travel from the Mother House in Peru to Australia and set up a Fraternas House here.

The charism of the Community was formally recognised in 2007 and given official recognition by the Holy See in 2011.

Known for their work with young people, the fraternas had a strong presence at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, WYD in Madrid in 2011 and again at last year's WYD in Rio.

Lorena was among the fraternas who to lead a large group of pilgrims to international World Youth Days and last year in the lead up to WYD in Rio, she and the group she was leading were among the large Australian contingent who spent three days building staircases for the poverty-stricken inhabitants of Lima's steep muddy hillside favelas.

Sydney's community has also become well-known as a result of the Fraternas work with young people, their regular attendance at the ever-popular Theology on Tap as well as at Catholic youth gatherings, vocations weekends and retreats.

Sydney's community has also become well-known as a result of the Fraternas work with young people, their regular talks at the ever-popular Theology on Tap as well as their role as keynote speakers at Catholic youth gatherings, vocations weekends and retreats.

Lorena firmly believes that discernment of one's particular path to sanctity is vital for personal flourishing as well as being vital for the life and mission of the Church, where each and every person is a gift and has a part to play.

Sister Anthony Mary Diago rsm who served as Vocations Promoter from 2010 until her return to the US last year

"From my own experience, I can say that from the moment I discovered and responded to my vocation, I found peace, joy and purpose. For this reason, I understand the importance of creating a vocational culture. I am passionate about this and have a vision of a vocational culture where the question of one's particular calling is natural and exciting, and where people seeking to discern their vocation have the appropriate resources readily available along with the guidance they need," she says.

The Archdiocese's Vocation Centre has been greatly assisted by the particular charisms of their respective Religious Communities to raise awareness of vocations in Sydney, Fr Michael says.

In this Year of Consecrated Life, he is also looking forward to seeing how Lorena will bring her own gifts to attract the faithful to the unique blessings experienced by those whose vocation and calling is to the Consecrated Life.

To find out more about the Archdiocese of Sydney's Vocations Centre and upcoming events go to www.vocationscentre.org.au