Saturday, 16 February 2013
Invocation in the North 2013
We have launched an initiative which, please God, is going to contribute significantly to the evangelisation of the north of England, namely Invocation in the North 2013, which will take place between 14th and 16th June at Ampleforth Abbey .When I went to seminary in 1988 we lads from the north rather pitied the seminarians from the south. We had, we believed, a robust Catholic culture: an amalgam of passionately felt Irish faithfulness, steeped in centuries of devotion, and a strong regional identity, upheld in particular by a history of working class togetherness (part St Mary's Bradford, part Odsal Rugby League Stadium, Bradford). During the eighteen years of my priesthood I have seen that culture gently, in part, implode, while southern dioceses have been filled with staunch Indian, Portuguese and African Catholic immigrants. Well, frankly, enough is enough: we want to claim back the north of England for Jesus (while being properly mindful, of course, of the goodness inherent in other faiths). We want to stop the secularisation of our society, show up the vacuity of godlessness and give our young people a fair chance to access the beauty of the Catholic tradition.
That's the background. Invocation is an annual discernment festival for 16- to 35-year-olds which has run for the last three years at Oscott College, Birmingham. This year we are having a regional one in the north; there will also be a day later in the year in the Midlands. Invocation provides a unique opportunity for young people to reflect prayerfully on how they may embrace the challenge of being a Catholic in today's society. It is taken as a given that some of them will want to be priests or religious, just as it's taken as a given that the requirement of complete mutual self-donation in marriage is an awesome and beautiful sacramental reality. We're not seeking to pitch one vocation against another; we're trying to create an environment in which our young people can listen to the personal and highly differentiated invitation which the Holy Spirit is making to each of them.
Anyway, there is a sense of momentum building up. The event is being organised by all the vocations directors of the northern dioceses with the backing of their respective bishops - it'll be a truly unique ecclesial event. We have three keynote speakers - Bishop Michael Campbell osa of Lancaster, Sister Roseanne Reddy of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life and (hopefully) Fr Sebastian Kajko of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal - and six workshops on such topics as "Vocation in the Catechism" "Benedictine Spirituality" and "The Priesthood." The weekend will comprise beautiful worship experiences: Divine Office with the monks, Adoration through the night, a nocturnal Blessed Sacrament Procession, and bags of opportunities for confession. We're hoping that about 150 young people will come. It would be great if some readers of this blog would join us. You'd love it. I'm coordinating publicity. Our Twitter address is @invocationnorth. Here's one of our promotional pictures. Please come. It's £60 all in. There is no point in being Catholic and not being radical.