Friday, 4 May 2012
Facing a hundred 15-year-olds
I went to All Saints' Catholic High School in Huddersfield to give a start-of-day presentation on Christian Vocation to one hundred 15-year-olds. I have always enjoyed this kind of thing. When teenagers are all looking in the same direction they forget about the need to be coolly dismissive of everything to do with Christianity: you can see yearning in their faces - well at least for a while! I told them stories about the two beati mentioned by Pope Benedict in his recent 2012 World Youth Day Message: Chiara Badano and Pier Giorgio Frassati. Then I read them the story of the Annunciation and said that we thought Mary was about their age when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her. They were still on board - and indeed they were a credit to the school throughout - but by this stage, half an hour in, attention was inevitably waning a bit. Right, I thought, I'll finish by enthusing about the priesthood. By this stage, however, I knew that I was flagging and after eighteen years as a priest, I am sure of one thing: children pereceive weakness with unerring accuracy. I nodded at the very able Assistant Chaplain, Rebecca Coyle who had assured me just before the assembly that, if I needed it, she had discovered a great DVD on YouTube about the priesthood. She pressed a button and the best resource I have ever seen on this subject appeared on screen. That's what I call team work! Entitled "To be a Priest," the DVD has been produced by the Vocations Office of the Diocese of Rockville Center in the United States. Here is the site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfnHAWKI7dE&feature=related . At the end, Miss Coyle invited the students to applaud me. Whatever they are paying her, they ought to double it. Here is a picture of two of the lads from the year group who helped me set everything up and the headteacher, Miss Anita Bodurka, who kindly gave me a coffee afterwards.