Saturday, 12 May 2012
Being direct about vocation
We had a good meeting yesterday at Oscott College, Birmingham, on promoting vocations to the priesthood. I met with Fr Stephen Langridge, the Chairman of the Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors, and Fr Paul Moss, Vocations Director for Birmingham. It was a planning session for our annual national conference in November. A key thing that emerged for me from our conversation was the need for us to be direct about inviting young men to consider the priesthood. There are sensitivities to be observed. We cannot do this in such a way as to suggest that everybody who isn't a priest is just an "also ran." But equally we cannot simply say that everybody is called by God and hope that some young men may decide to approach us about the priesthood. I think that the trick is to help create a culture of personal generosity among young people through good group catechesis, worship, and volunteering initiatives. Then as priests we need to spend time with them. Very naturally a moment comes when we say to a particular young man (usually upon reaching a good view on a long walk), "Have you ever thought about the priesthood?" The fact that we have a special interest in his vocation does not mean that we are uninterested in lay and religious vocations. On the contrary, if this man does go on and get ordained he will exercise his ministry serving his brothers and sisters in the Church. I think most young Catholics are cool about this - to use youth parlance! They don't think I'm a clericalist or a misogynist because I devote quite a lot of time to accompanying young men who wish to explore the priesthood. They just want me to get on with encouraging some of their peers to be as generous in offering their lives in the priesthood as they hope to be in, for example, the state of marriage.