Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Get thee to a nunn'ry
I accompanied Fr William Massie, the vocation director for Middlesbrough Diocese, to Ampleforth Abbey yesterday. We met up with Julia Brooke, PA to Abbot Cuthbert Madden, to begin planning for "Invocation 2013", the event which will mark the end of secularisation in the north, and will lead to young men clamouring to get into seminary and one in two of our young women embracing religious life, leaving boyfiends sobbing at the convent gates. That's the aim anyway. Invocation, which has happened twice now at Oscott College Birmingham and will be happening there again this July, is an annual faith festival for young people who are open to the possibility that God may be calling them to the priesthood or religious life. This means, practically speaking (to my mind), that it is for every young person who isn't married. In 2013, there will be several regional events, rather than the national ones as heretofore. Julia, who is a graduate of Leeds Trinity, where I am chaplain, showed us around the beautiful site: there are smart guesthouses for the VIPs, good dormitory accommodation for the young people, space for marquees, lecture theatres for key-note speeches, a deeply impressive church and acres of land for good one-to-one conversations, which can be a very important part of such an event. It's got everything and Julia says that Abbot Madden is very keen that the abbey should be involved. My university chaplain of happy memory, Dom Christopher Jenkins, of Belmont Abbey, let it be known that he thought most of us who participated in the life of the chaplaincy ought to go into the priesthood or religious life and a good number of us obliged him.