Dear Friends in Christ,
In the first chapter of St John’s Gospel, there is a scene where Jesus encounters two of John the Baptist’s disciples. The Baptist directs them to Jesus and they follow behind him and show an interest in knowing more about him. As they follow behind, Jesus turns and asks: “What do you want?” They reply: “Master, where do you live” and he answers: “Come and see.” The invitation remains open to all of us through our Baptism and to those who wish to become a true disciple of Christ.Having been called by God, it’s important that we give thanks for the gift of our own vocation and indeed, for the different vocations in life but what unites all of us is the reality that all of us have been called to play our part in the building of his Kingdom.As we all know, in terms of promoting vocations to priesthood, diaconate or religious life, it’s a time of challenge but yet, a time of opportunity. As the numbers of vocations to priesthood and religious life has declined in recent years, we’re challenged to continue preaching a message of hope. Jesus Christ who has risen from the dead is the One who is at the heart of that message of hope. To follow Jesus in priesthood or religious life is to give witness to the Lord’s abiding presence. The Lord calls men and women of courage, to be signs of hope in our communities, in our country and in our world. Promoting vocations to priesthood and religious life is the responsibility of all of us who are part of the Church.
Most priests or religious will say that it was in the context of their own family or community that they felt their initial calling. Many will say that it was within their own home and through their local school and parish where they were greatly influenced and felt drawn. We have been very blessed in our own diocese over the years with so many good and committed priests and religious and they quietly influence other peoples lives. So many wonderful priests and religious have worked tirelessly over the years, both at home and abroad and so many have had such a positive influence on so many lives. We can never underestimate the influence that any priest or religious can have and how their dedication to their ministry can be so significant. As we think of many, we hope and pray that their lives of fidelity and faith will be taken up by many more in the years to come.
The truth is that all of us are called to be vocation directors and all of us are called to do what we can in nourishing and fostering vocations. We should be supportive of those who may be discerning their future and who may be considering their call. Very often, we can forget that it’s the responsibility of the whole community to pray for vocations and encourage others to consider their call. It’s important that we turn to Jesus in the Eucharist again and again and pray that each of us may be faithful in living out our own vocation but we need to pray often for more vocations to priesthood and religious life.
Recently and we had the first permanent deacons ordained for service in our diocese and there are a number of other men in our diocese who are currently engaged in the permanent diaconate programme. We thank God for their commitment and their faith and we continue to hope and pray that more men will respond to that call, to serve as deacons in the future.
Many people fail to associate the word “vocation” with marriage or single life. No matter what our walk of life might be, all of us as priests, religious, deacons, married and single people, all of us have been called to share in the life and mission of Church and we have been called to give witness to the Lord, no matter what our walk of life might be.
I commend the Diocesan Vocations Team on the good work that they do in raising awareness on the different vocations in life and for all that they do in promoting the Christian Vocation. Recently our Commission produced an insightful DVD “A calling for Everyone” which challenges all of us to reflect more closely on the different callings in life. The DVD is available through Veritas or by contacting any member of the Diocesan Vocations Team.
It challenges all of us to think a little more of how we’re living out our calling as followers of Christ. May it challenge us to encourage others to reflect on what it means to be called and may it remind all of us that we’re all called by God to be part of his Church and we’re all called to share in the building of his Kingdom.
Rev Peter McAnenly