An Exhibition to forget
THE Vocations Exhibition in Leeds has ended and it would take a casuist of staggering ingenuity to pretend that it was a roaring success. It was not. The main question now arising in its rather dismal wake is whether Challenge '69 is the end of the road for exhibitions of this nature.
The last time that the Vocations Exhibition was held in Leeds was in 1955. The great Church event of the intervening years has been Vatican II, but most people at this year's exhibition felt that there was no notable reflection that an Ecumenical Council' had even occurred.
Righteousness, we all know, must be readable; it must also be "viewable" to attract vocations. In this context the organisers failed to live up to their own worthy challenge. Many of the exhibitors were bitterly disappointed, one of their criticisms being that the organisers were not prepared to accept criticism! They (the exhibitors), apart from not being involved in the liturgical functions, ceremonies or lectures, thought, above all, that the Mass should have held a more prominent place in the whole scheme. In practice there was meagre opportunity of seeing the Liturgy at its best. With all the advantages of a central gathering place, few went to Mass. The liturgy, as presented, with no altar in the centre of the congregation, showed surprisingly little deviation from that of 1955, though the Mass for young people on the final Saturday was well organised, and, also, therefore well attended.
Too few cared
ONE of the most serious suggestions for the future (despite the discouraging factor that few of the nuns, priests or brothers on the stands thought that there even was a future for an exhibition run on such lines) was for concelebrated Mass in the middle of the day, during which time the stands should be closed. The simultaneous presence of so many priests could have made possible the concelebration of Mass in a unique and striking way.
The crowning irony of this year's well meant effort was that its theme was "the Caring Church," when it was painfully obvious how few people cared about the exhibition. Such apathy, it appears, was largely due to the lack of advance publicity and public relations activities at parish level in the Leeds diocese as a whole.
With so little thought having gone into making the affair an imaginative and dramatic occasion, plans for the future (if any) seem to call for wider participation and stronger ecumenical overtones.
Apart from all this, financial considerations have worried both organisers and exhibitors. Whereas the former Exhibition at Leeds was held under canvas and space was at a premium, last week's was in the Queen's Hall, and there was much empty space.
Finally, it should be added, the Vocations Exhibition to be held at the beginning of July in Haywards Heath, reported on page seven, could well give some useful guidelines for future ideas. Its aims and terms of reference, though less ambitious in one sense, could, as time goes on, serve wider purposes and be free of the objections that were raised at Leeds.