Saturday, 30 January 2010

From Bishop O'Donoghue (in Cork)

In concluding a series of Videos for our Lancaster Diocesan Website Emeritus Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue here speaks of the importance of Vocations prayer and promotion:

And Finally.... from Bishop O'Donoghue on Vimeo.

Vocation Stories (Lifeteen)

How about this:

Vocation Stories [Life Teen] from Life Teen on Vimeo.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Year of the Priest

A lovely Video Reflection from the Archdiocese of Boston to mark this special year of grace:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Something Nearer to Home!

A Video from Director, National Office for Vocation now Parish Priest in Kendal, Cumbria in the Diocese of Lancaster

“The Priesthood is certainly a very challenging life… For people who think it’s a dull and boring existence, if only they could come and see what it’s all about…”

Consider Priesthood from Catholic Church (England/Wales) on Vimeo.

'Ten Things That Promote Vocations'

The Catholic Church in the U.S. celebrated National Vocation Awareness Week last week. To encourage Catholics to foster vocations, Father David Toups, interim director of the Office of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers “Ten Things” Catholics can do to promote vocations to priesthood and religious life.

The first five steps on this list are directed toward all Catholics.
The second five are specifically an invitation to younger Catholics to consider saying “yes” to a religious vocation.

For all Catholics:

1. Pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Jesus says in Matthew 9:38 “to beg the master of the harvest to send laborers into the vineyard.” If we want more priests, sisters and brothers, we all need to ask.

2. Teach young people how to pray. Pope Benedict XVI said that unless we teach our youth how to pray, they will never hear God calling them into a deeper relationship with Him and into the discipleship of the Church.

3. Invite active young adults and teens to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life. A simple, sincere comment should not be underestimated. An easy way to do this can be remembered by four letters: ICNU. “John, I see in you (ICNU) the qualities that would make a good priest, and I want to encourage you to pray about it.” It is a non-invasive way to encourage openness to a religious vocation.

4. Make it attractive. Show the priesthood for what it truly is – a call to be a spiritual father to the whole family of faith. Similarly, the consecrated life for a young woman is a call to be united to Christ in a unique way, and to be a spiritual mother to those she encounters in her life and service. The challenge for priests and religious is to be joyful models of their vocations.

5. Preach it, brother! Vocations must be talked about regularly if a “vocation culture” is to take root in parishes and homes. This means, first and foremost, the people need to hear about vocations from priests through homilies, prayers of the faithful, and discussions in the classroom. Vocations kept out of sight are out of mind.

For those considering a vocation:

6. Practice the faith. We all need to be reminded that the whole point of our lives is to grow in a deep, intimate and loving relationship with God. This is the first step for any young person desiring to discern any call in life.

7. Enter into the Silence. Silence is key to sanity and wholeness. We can only “hear” the voice of God if we are quiet. Take out the ear buds of your iPhone, iPod, and iTunes and listen to God, the great I AM. Young people should try to spend 15 minutes of quiet prayer each day – this is where you can begin to receive clear direction in your lives.

8. Be a good disciple. Some bishops say, “We do not have a vocation crisis; we have a discipleship crisis.” Young people can become true followers of Jesus Christ by serving those around them. By discovering your call to discipleship, you also discover your particular call within the Church.

9. Ask God. Ask God what He wants for your life and know He only wants what is good for you. If, in fact, you are called to the priesthood or consecrated life, it will be the path to great joy and contentment.

10. In the immortal words of a famous sneaker manufacturer: “Just do it!” If you feel that God is inviting you to “try it out,” apply to the seminary or religious order. Remember, the seminary or convent is a place of discernment. You will not be ordained or asked to profess vows for many years, providing ample opportunity to explore the possibility of a call to priesthood or religious life.

Vocation Thoughts from a New Bishop

Here's an encouraging and inspiring piece from a new bishop in the United States:

"Vocations are Still a “Super-Priority"

From The Catholic Key
By Bishop Robert W. Finn
Kansas City-St. Joseph

In my first months as bishop of the diocese I said Vocations were a “Super Priority.” While we have had a meaningful increase in vocations to priesthood, the diaconate, and some new vocations to consecrated life, I still offer this intention for more vocations to priesthood and Consecrated Life with fervor in my daily prayer. I hope you do also.

We are reaching the midpoint of the Year for Priests, inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI last June. How proud I am of our priests who do so much for you, God’s people. Still, they need more help, particularly as the pastoral needs seem always to increase. This year, please God, we will ordain four new priests; and it remains possible that in 2012 we could celebrate the ordination of eight or nine new priests at once. I haven’t figured out how we will get everyone in the Cathedral; a pleasing dilemma!

Am I greedy to suggest that we need more priests? I believe that God is calling more men to this wonderful vocation, and we have to listen carefully and prepare well so that your sons can hear and answer that call.

What kind of life awaits the priest? To be sure, there are many joys, and also challenges. The priest is helped by God to give himself to many people. He shares in the greatest joys of people’s lives and is with them in times of hardship and sorrow. He is a pastor, a shepherd, a teacher, and spiritual father. He stands in the place of Jesus Christ, particularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

How does a man discern a possible vocation to priesthood? The healthy man (healthy in body, mind and soul), as he matures, wants to give himself in an honest and generous way. It is important and normal that he sees the beauty of marriage, and its central meaning and purpose in society. At the same time, he realizes he has a spiritual dimension to his life and he wants to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow God’s call wherever it may take him. He works hard at every task before him, and finds joy in generously reaching out to others. He studies with zeal. He prays. He establishes caring friendships, and determines to live a moral life, growing in the frequent reception of the sacraments, particularly of Confession and Holy Eucharist.

As a man experiences this spiritual depth to his life, he does not seek a vocation that makes him materially rich or famous. Instead, having realized something of the cost and demands of authentic human love, he is ready to trust God and give himself to others out of love for God. He realizes that the Father in heaven has loved him a lot, and the awareness of this love and mercy makes him want to follow God’s plan in his life. Our seminarians are responding to this vocation to the priesthood. Our priests are living this out with dedication. Keep praying for them to persevere.

The role and support of parents is very important to those who are discerning God’s call. Your sons (and daughters) look up to you for approval. They should. Your love for them is unconditional and unselfish. I do not suggest that you should urge your sons to go to seminary, but pray for them, that they do whatever God wants for them. Support them in their search. I pledge once again to our parents that if we receive their sons as our seminarians we will do all in our power to see they get good formation.

Over the course of my priesthood, I have also had occasion to meet many outstanding men and women Religious. I was taught by and have worked closely with several Orders of Religious Women. There is a real renewal taking place in these vocations today. I have established an office for Consecrated Life, and we stand ready to direct young women and men who may be drawn to Religious life as priests, sisters or brothers.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A Video Interview from the Archdiocese of Boston: Vocation

How about this from the Archdiocese of Boston:

Pray for the Bishop!

Here's a beautiful, humble and moving reflection on the vocation to the Episcopate which might be helpful:

Homily of Archbishop Thomas Collins at the Ordination of new Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan, January 12th, 2010

The Bishop: Apostle of Jesus for the Hope of the World

One of the most dramatic moments in the ordination of a bishop occurs when the Book of the Gospels is held over his head as the prayer of consecration is proclaimed. As Cardinal Re noted at the Synod on the Word, the bishop begins his episcopal ministry under the Gospel of Christ, who sends him out from there in his mission as a successor of the apostles. As we hear in the second reading today, God has “saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.”

The bishop is a herald, an apostle, and a teacher: He is to proclaim the presence of the Lord as a herald of the kingdom of God, and he is faithfully to teach the message of the Good News of Christ. He is a successor of the apostles: his home is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, and like the apostles he is sent out from that home to represent Jesus to the world. That is what “apostle” means: one who is sent.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ for the whole world, but each bishop is a Vicar of Christ for that portion of the vineyard of the Lord which the successor of the Apostle Peter has entrusted to his care. He represents Jesus to the people to whom he is sent to preach the Gospel.

Always the bishop must keep his eyes on Jesus, who sends him. Always he must return under the roof of the Book of the Gospels for personal renewal in his mission, as he comes back home again and again to encounter the Lord who has sent him, and to be nourished by that Lord in the Eucharist, and healed of sin in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A great book on the priesthood by a great bishop is entitled The Priest is not his Own. What Bishop Sheen wrote applies especially to those who have been entrusted with the fullness of the priesthood as successors of the apostles of Our Lord. We belong to the Master, and are sent out from him to serve his people. Our life is not our own.

I am afraid that I do not remember many retreats that I have made, but I have never forgotten my first retreat as a seminarian at St Peter’s in 1969. It was given by Father Durand at a time of great turmoil in the priesthood and the Church – a common occurrence in the life of the Church. He said something that I have puzzled over for years, and I think I have finally more or less figured out what he meant. He said: “A priest cannot have an identity crisis, because a priest does not have an identity!” In one sense that is obviously false: each priest has his own natural identity, his own particular personality, and diverse gifts and weaknesses. But it is profoundly true: a priest, and especially one who is consecrated in the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ as a bishop, receives his deepest identity from his mission as an apostle of the Lord. He is a man for others, but he is ultimately a man for the other who is His Lord, Our Great High Priest, who sends him to serve the disciples and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to the World. We are called to be lost in the love of the one who sends us.

As Pope John Paul states in Pastores Gregis, his letter on the mission of bishops: “Jesus Christ is the icon to which we look as we carry out our ministry as heralds of hope.” (74)

One whose identity comes from being sent by the Lord Jesus is called to repentance, to holiness, and to joyful trust.

II: Implications of being sent to serve as a successor of the Apostles of Jesus

1. Humble Repentance

Before Ordination, the candidate for the office of Bishop lies prostrate before the Lord as we all pray for him, and ask the angels and saints to join in. He is the “unworthy servant” of Jesus, but he has been chosen and sent. Each of us who called to apostolic ministry needs to reflect on the frailty of the first Apostles: they were far from perfect; all but the beloved disciple failed the Lord, and one betrayed him.

The example of St Peter is instructive for all bishops, and not only for the Pope: he often let his human imperfections get the best of him, but he enthusiastically loved Jesus. It was by grace and not by nature that he became the rock upon whom Jesus built his Church.

In the Gospel today we see Peter’s enthusiasm, but also his human frailty: “when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

So the Bishop, sent from Jesus as apostle, always needs to recognize his own frailties. There is a delightful passage in the Directory for the Pastoral Life of Bishops which was issued by the Holy See in which it notes that because bishops are called to make many decisions, they have many opportunities to make mistakes. They have plenty of occasions to grow in humility.

The authority of the bishop does not come from within, from any personal competence. It comes from the Lord who sends him, and so each of us bishops must live daily in a spirit of humble repentance, asking the Lord to forgive our sins and to help us deal with our human inadequacies. As Bishop Sherlock said while preaching at my Episcopal ordination, children regularly ask a bishop, “How did you become a bishop?” Their parents more wisely ask, “How did you become a bishop?”

2. Episcopal Holiness: Union with the Lord who sends him

If a bishop is to represent faithfully the one who sends him, and from whom he derives his identity, his life must be marked by episcopal holiness: he must personally know the Lord whom he represents. His real fruitful authority is not canonical, but derives from the degree to which the people whom he serves acknowledge that in fact their bishop loves Jesus and loves them.

This means that a bishop needs daily to spend time with his Lord whom he encounters in sacred scripture, in prayer, and in the Holy Eucharist.

As Peter begins to sink, he finally gets beyond his human fears and cries out “Lord, save me!” Later on, after the resurrection, Jesus speaks to this prince of apostles, but one who had denied him through cowardice, and asks him the questions that matter. At an Episcopal ordination we have a series of excellent questions that outline the mission of a bishop, and meditating on them is a salutary experience for every bishop. But before entrusting Peter with the care of the flock Jesus asked the only questions that really count: “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?” Those are the questions as well that are at the foundation of the mission for each successor of the apostles. All the rest is commentary.

There is another reason why the bishop must live with integrity: to be faithful to his mission he must speak boldly against the evils of this world. Granted the reality of his daily need for repentance, a bishop must be at peace with his conscience, for as Gregory the Great says, the Gospel loses credibility if conscience tethers the tongue of the preacher.

Pope John Paul, in his letter on the mission of the bishop, writes: “As pastor of the flock and servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in hope, the Bishop must become as it were a transparent reflection of the very person of Christ, the Supreme Pastor. In the Roman Pontifical this requirement is specifically mentioned: “Receive the mitre, and may the splendour of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the Chief Shepherd appears, you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory.”” (Pastores Gregis 13)

3. Serene and Joyful Trust

In the life of a bishop, as in the life of any Christian living in this vale of tears, things can get rough at times, and one can be overcome by a sense of peril. As in the days when Peter came to the Lord over the stormy sea, all of us in the Church face problems that can unnerve us, whether they come from outside the Church or from within. But we are in the hands of the man who stills the waters and calms the sea: if we call out “Lord, save me!”, as Peter did, aware that our own efforts to calm the sea are utterly insufficient, then we will experience the serenity that we find in today’s Gospel: “When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’”

We need not be overly distracted by the wind and the waves. We Christians trust in the Lord who comes walking towards us serenely in the midst of the storms of life: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’” A disciple of Jesus, and certainly a successor of the apostles, always finds reason for joyful serenity, not in the illusion of optimism, for the storms are real, but rather in the vision of faith which reveals to us the ultimate reality of the providence of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ who sends us into this world.

In the book of Sirach, in the first reading today, we hear:
“You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.”

A bishop is called to serve the Lord with gladness, singing for joy, for he is a successor of the apostles of the Lord of the universe, who sends him on his apostolic mission. As Pope John Paul says in his letter on the mission of bishops,
“The Bishop is called in a particular way to be a prophet, witness, and servant of hope. ... Especially in times of growing unbelief and indifference, hope is a stalwart support for faith and an effective incentive for love. ... Relying on the Word of God and holding firmly to hope, which like a sure and steadfast anchor reaches to the heavens (Heb 6:18-20), the Bishop stands in the midst of the Church as a vigilant sentinel, a courageous prophet, a credible witness and a faithful servant of Christ, “our hope and glory” (cf Col 1:27) ...” (Pastores Gregis 3)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Allen Hall Returns to Work

By Seminarian John Millar

Our two Lancaster students studying at Allen Hall Seminary in London have returned to a busy term. A slow start ensued because of the bad weather so a trip to the seminary at Oscott was cancelled but things are now in full swing.

Both the Lancaster students are in Divinity so go out of the house to Heythrop College (part of the University of London, an international centre of studies for the Society of Jesus and run by the Jesuits) to study theology. We spend three years studying theology to gain two degrees, a Bachelor of Divinity awarded by the University of London and a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology awarded by the Pontifical University of Louvain. These studies complement and complete the two years of study in philosophy undertaken at the beginning of our time at seminary. A native of our diocese (he is from Kendal parish), Fr Dominic Robinson SJ is teaching the Divines Trinitarian theology this term.

While at Heythrop we study alongside seminarians from a variety of different religious orders that adds to our experience of the wide traditions within the Church. Among those we study with are the Jesuits, the Benedictines, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Oratorians and the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

A Little Something from Southwark

Video created by Steven Greenwood, a Seminarian of the Archdiocese of Southwark

Friday, 8 January 2010

New Year Seminarians' Gathering at the House of Formation

A Reflection by Seminarian John Millar (Holy Trinity & St George, Kendal)

Over the weekend of Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd January the seminarians of our diocese gathered in Cleator. Scattered across England’s seminaries and different parishes of the diocese they do not get much opportunity to come together with one another. Braving the snow and ice they travelled to the far west of the Diocese meeting for lunch at the Priory on Saturday. This was the last chance for our seminarians to do this until Easter as they returned to their formation in the seminaries during the following week.

Such moments of coming together are important in the life of the seminarian so that they may maintain a link to their own diocese and its brotherhood of priests even though often living far away (one even as far as Rome). For many of them it was also a chance to catch up with old acquaintances formed when they lived at Cleator during their pre-seminary (propaedeutic year) year. More than that being in the parish again was a reminder of the people God has called them to serve.

Please keep your seminarians in your prayers as we continue to discern our vocation to serve God and His Church.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Benedict XVI tells young people not to fear a priestly or religious vocation

On the final day of 2009, the Holy Father led first Vespers at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. In addition to singing the Te Deum hymn, he exhorted young people to have the courage to pursue their vocation.

The Te Deum is sung in thanksgiving to the Lord in many Catholic churches throughout the world on December 31 of each year. In his remarks, the Holy Father noted that this is a time to "put the various events of our lives – major and minor…under the sign of salvation and accept the call God makes to guide us toward a goal beyond time itself: eternity."

"We are called to say with our voices, hearts and lives our ‘thanks’ to God for the gift of his son, …for family, for community, the church and the world," he continued.

Pope Benedict XVI gave special thanks for those who live and work within the Diocese of Rome, of which he is the Bishop. He praised efforts within the city to follow in the footsteps of Christ and encouraged further participation of the faithful "to be able to offer a valid contribution to the edification of the Church."

In the message, the Pope put special emphasis on the importance of reaching youth with God’s Word. "Rome needs priests that are courageous announcers of the Gospel and, at the same time, reveal the merciful face of the Father."

The Roman Pontiff invited young people "to not be afraid to respond to the complete gift of their own existence to the call that the Lord makes to them to pursue the way of priesthood or the consecrated life."

The Holy Father also recommended a return to the "lectio divina," the reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer, because "the Word, believed, announced and lived pushes us to solidarity and sharing."

Pope Benedict XVI concluded his message by expressing his wish that the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day, to be celebrated on March 25, 2010, be a day of "reflection and invocation to obtain from the Lord the gift of numerous vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life."

(based on a piece by CNA)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Your Call - Is it Priesthood?

Let's start the New Year with a Video (Courtesy of the Diocese of Kiladre & Leighlin, Ireland) that might help those of you who are discerning the way forward in your own life at this time:

Your Call, Is it Priesthood? from KandLe Team on Vimeo.

Fr Sean Corkery (Diocese of Cloyne) began seminary when I was completeing my STL Studies in Maynooth, Ireland. He is a native of the same home parish as Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue (Mourneabbey)

Fr Paul Dempsey (Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin) was with me in St Patrick's College, Carlow in Ireland when I was with the Kiltegans.

Happy New Year!

Contact for more information:

Fr Emmanuel Gribben,
Vocations Director
St Mary's
CA23 3AB

Tel: 01946 810324