By Canon Stuart Wilson
It seems to me that the Diocesan Vocations Promoter has two tasks. Firstly he has to find new men who are willing to offer themselves to the priesthood. This is no easy task in a world which is dominated by a fear of taking too many risks and in a society which has become challenged by the idea of lifelong commitment. Yet I believe that God is calling men to priesthood, as well as women and men to the Religious Life and that my task (along with the clergy of the diocese) is to help them hear that still small voice in the midst of a noisy world that would want to drown it out.
As I thought about that, it came to me that the title of Vocations Promoter is not a title that I should keep for myself. In order to do this work, I have gathered around me a group of people who have become the Vocations Promotion Team. They help me plan a strategy for the future and I am grateful to them.
Yet does the promotion work stop there? I don’t think so! I was reading recently an address that Pope Francis gave to a group of people gathered in Rome for a conference on vocations and sanctity. The conference had the catchy title ‘Get Up’ and the Holy Father picked this up and reminded his listeners that this phrase was used by the angel who visited St Peter in prison (Acts 12:7). The angel said to Peter: ‘Get up and wrap your mantle around you’. At the outset, Peter didn’t know whether this was a dream, but he did what the angel asked him. He followed the angel and went to the house where the Christian community was gathered praying for him to be released from prison. The amazing thing was that the Christian community couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw him at the door. They thought he was a ghost, an illusion, and they became fearful and wanted to reject what they saw. Thank goodness the Holy Spirit put them straight!
The work of vocations promotion can seem like this today. Certainly it is important that every member of the diocese prays for vocations. Again, the Holy Father in his address encourages this. He says that ‘the greatest pastoral plan without the leaven of prayer will not succeed’. So my second task is to stir up every member of the diocese to renew their prayer for vocations.
How will you pray for vocations? Will you attach it to a prayer each day as you say the Our Father or the Hail Mary? What about also making it an interior prayer from the heart? Praying with an earnestness because the need is great. Perhaps you could pray something simple like: ‘Call men to reap the harvest Lord’ or ‘Raise up vocations in my parish, Lord’.
At the moment we are beginning to circulate an eye-catching card which we hope you will use. It could be your reminder to prayer each day; leave it by your bedside or on the fridge.
But the card could be used in another way. The Pope’s message reminds us that the first Christians were praying, but they couldn’t believe that the Lord had answered their prayer. They couldn’t believe their eyes. So pray with your eyes open, be on the lookout for likely people to answer God’s call. The answer to our prayers might be there, sitting near you, serving at the altar, helping with parish activities or impressing you by their air of spiritfulness. Give them the card and ask them to give us a call, our details are on the back.
Dear fellow vocations promoters, thank you for helping in this work.
Are you interested in exploring the calling to priesthood or the religious life? Join other like-minded people for an evening of prayer and conversation at Our Lady of Dolours Church, Fulham Road on 28 January.
The evening will begin with Mass at 6.30pm when seminarians will speak about their calling.
After Mass there is an opportunity to relax and speak to each other and to priests, religious and seminarians about the call of God. More information on our Facebook event.