Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Forming Young People to be Missionaries

I would ask your prayers please for a new project here at the Vocations Centre. Next year we will have eight young men living here forming our Vocations Mission Team. They will receive formation in the faith, in the spiritual life and in community living. What will set them apart from other similar projects, however, is that they will also go out to evangelise in schools, parishes, universities and on the streets. Pope Francis says it is not enough to open the door in welcome we have to go out through that door in order to take Christ to others. The plan is for the experience of a year with our Mission Team to ensure that evangelisation becomes part of the DNA of our future priests.

Here are the words of Pope Francis to bishops at World Youth Day in Rio. You'll see they match perfectly our project:

Young people want Confession!

Called to proclaim the Gospel – Dear Bishops and priests, many of you, if not all, have accompanied your young people to World Youth Day. They too have heard the mandate of Jesus: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Mt 28:19). It is our responsibility to help kindle within their hearts the desire to be missionary disciples of Jesus. Certainly, this invitation could cause many to feel somewhat afraid, thinking that to be missionaries requires leaving their own homes and countries, family and friends. God asks us to be missionaries wherewe are, where He puts us! Let us help our young people to realize that the call to be missionary disciples flows from our baptism and is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian. We must also help them to realize that we are called first to evangelize in our own homes and our places of study and work, to evangelize our family and friends. Let us help our young people, let us open our ears to their questions, they need to be listened to when in difficulty; of course patience is needed to listen, in confession and in spiritual direction. We need to know how best to spend time with them. 

Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people! Saint Paul uses a beautiful expression that he embodied in his own life, when he addressed the Christian community: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Let us embody this also in our own ministry! Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who gave his Son Jesus for our salvation. Let us form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with his own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They are the V.I.P.s invited to the table of the Lord... go and look for them in the nooks and crannies of the streets. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ordinariate Group

It was very nivce to be able to welcome members of the Ladies' Ordinariate Group and of the Association for Catholic Women to the Vocations Centre last Friday. They joined us for Mass and lunch after which I was able to give them a tour of the Vocations Centre followed by a presentation on the work we do here. They then prayed the Rosary for vocations in front of the image of Our Lady in the garden before visit to the harbour and lifts to the station in time for the train home.
It was a delight to welcome them here and we are all grateful to them for the support of their prayers.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To Save a Thousand Souls - UK Edition

I am very pleased to let you know that Fr Brett Brannen's outstanding "guide for discerning a vocation to diocesan priesthood" is now available in a UK edition. Here in the UK we have been developing the work of Invocation as a sort of executive arm of the Vocation Directors' Conference and when we saw the book we were keen to make it available on this side of the pond. We were therefore very pleased to put Vianney Vocations, the US publisher in contact with the Catholic Truth Society who have produced the UK edition. This new edition contains "The Melchisidek Project", a supplement not found in the original, which structures the book for use in discernment groups. The presence of this supplement makes this edition the perfect tool for use in discernment groups for men considering a priestly vocation. It can be used in parishes and deaneries, as well as in chaplaincies and by diocesan vocation directors. 
Fr Brannen's style is accessible, humorous and engaging making the book a perfect present for any committed Catholic lad from his late teenage years upwards.
The UK edition, published by the CTS, was recently endorsed by Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apsotolic Nuncio to Ireland who wrote: "As our recent Popes have reminded us: the Church needs holy priests. There is perhaps no more important mission in the Church today than that of helping young men to respond generously to the call of Jesus Christ to become holy priests. This book is an invaluable contribution to that mission".

I recommend it to all of you. You can order a copy here at the CTS website.

Invocation Pilgrimage to Rome

To mark the Year of Faith Pope Benedict XVI invited "seminarians, novices and those on a vocational journey" to join him in Rome for a special vocations pilgrimage. When he retired Pope Francis took up the invitation and so it was that we cancelled two of the three Invocation weekend events here in England and instead organised an Invocation pilgrimage to Rome. We had to let Rome know numbers very early for accommodation purposes - they had to house about 6,000 pilgrims from all over the world - and so in the end there were eighty-five of us housed with a religious community in the Monte Mario district. Additionally some Franciscans and some Dominicans came and stayed with their various communities, five seminarians also came from Cardiff and we were joined by a number of students studying at the English College in Rome. Scotland was represented by three seminarians who joined our group. In all we were about a hundred pilgrims from the UK which itself generated some interest in Rome. So much so that we were interviewed by a number of media outlets. The photograph above is of Paloma, the Rome correspondent for COPE, a Spanish national radio station. Paloma interviewed me before the pilgrimage began on the vocations situation in the United Kingdom and I was able to explain to her how Invocation was making a real difference to the face of vocations work among young people. 

Catching Up...

 Sorry the blog has fallen silent for a few weeks. It has been a busy time and I've not gotten round to keeping the blog up to date. For the last ten days of June I was in southern Spain for a priests' course. There were about thirty of us on the course which focused a lot on themes associated with the New Evangelisation, including its relevance to liturgy and to economics. Depending on your perspective the weather was either great or dreadful. For me a nice dry temperature in the mid-thirties was ideal. Others, of course, didn't share the enthusiasm of the Englishman abroad. Fortunately for everyone the rooms were air-conditioned so it was really very agreeable indoors.

 The priests on the course were of all ages but there were quite a few older ones and I was amazed to see how readily they had all taken to the new technologies. I reckon I probably saw three breviaries - everyone else was using their iPhones, iPads or tablets to pray the Office. In the photograph Fr Miguel Ponce is demonstrating the power of his Macbook Air which really was incredibly light. Fr Ponce has just finished his latest book, on the Last Things, which aroused much interest among the older brethren - as one cheeky youngster commented "for them it's closer to home". Words he came to regret on the last morning when a seventy-eight year old had a stroke after morning prayer...