Saturday, 5 May 2012
A new vocations group is launched
We went on a six-mile "Faith Walk" to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace in Osmotherley today. The "we" is a new group called the Vocations Pathways Group which is aimed at young practising Catholics aged 15 and over who want to develop their faith and discern how God is calling them to serve in his Church. It is a joint initiative between Middlesbrough and Leeds Dioceses. Eight young people turned out for our inaugural trip. We hope to have a number of such walks each year. When we got on the top of the North York Moors it began to snow so we had our sandwiches crouched under fir trees. After warming tea and cakes, Fr Massie, the vocations director of Middlesbrough, gave us a great talk on the theme "Saying 'yes' with Mary" and then we processed up to the shrine chapel, saying the joyful mysteries of the rosary (in keeping with his exposition of the story of the Annunciation). Fr Damien Humphries osb gave a beautiful homily at the Vigil Mass on the need to "remain in" the Lord and after Mass (and more tea) he gave us a fascinating talk on the history of the shrine. One of the many things that I learnt is that Katherine of Aragon was a patroness of the Carthusians, who once owned the chapel, and her coat of arms is inscribed in its principal window. Moreover there is talk of a beatification process.
The walk nearly did not take place at all because these days safeguarding requirements are so stringent: we needed to have four designated adults in order that we would have two adults to accompany a child to hospital in the event of an accident and two to remain with the group. Fortunately, staunch Catenian John Wood, who helped Celia Blackden at the Vocations Office and me set the group up, persuaded two of his fellow parishioners in the Parish of Ss John Fisher and Thomas More, Burley in Wharfedale, to join us. In fact, the presence of John and Michael Hanogue and Rosalia Roberts was not just a safeguarding necessity, it was an enrichment of the event: they testified to their particular vocation as lay people in the very act of accompanying the young people. It all felt balanced and right. The picture above was taken outside the shrine and the one below shows us all standing by the lady statue with Fr Damien in the middle. If you are on Facebook, there are full details on the page of the Vocations Pathways Group.
These young people are inspirational. They face a lot at school. "I thought you were intelligent, I didn't realise you were a Catholic," one of those on the walk was told recently. They value the faith: "I love confession. I go every fortnight," said one today. It was moving seeing them lined up for our photo in front of the shrine. "It's going to be up to you soon," I said. They'll be ready for it.