World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Today is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also the World day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

These days, as a priest who has been ordained for 47 years next month, I get very defensive because, as soon as you mention praying for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, there will be someone who says “What about marriage and the single life?”. It is important to cultivate in all of us the sense of a vocation or calling to holiness that is very clearly expressed in chapter five of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium. While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), consecrated life in all its forms (male and female religious life, societies of apostolic life, consecrated virginity), secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary

Why in the UK are there much fewer men and women putting themselves forward for the priesthood and religious life? Is it that God is calling but fewer men and women are hearing the call? I always remember a conversation I had with a young mother who said she would never encourage her son to think about the priesthood because she wanted grandchildren. To what extent do we understand the importance and value of the priesthood and religious life?

It is worth looking at our diocesan website, there you have the testimonies of four recently ordained priests, David Hunter, Dermot O’Gorman, Francis Murphy and our own John Howard reflecting on their first years as a priest.

Let us ask the Good Shepherd that we may know his love and care for each of us and be always attentive to his voice. Here is a prayer that all young people and perhaps not so young people can pray:

My Lord and my God, you are Love itself, the source of all love and goodness. Out of love you created me to know you, to love you, and to serve you in a unique way, as no one else can. I believe that you have a plan for my life, that you have a mission in your Kingdom reserved for me alone. Your plan and your mission are far better than any other I might choose: they will glorify you, fulfil the desires of my heart, and bring salvation to those
souls who are depending on my generous response.

Lord grant me the light of grace I need in order to see the next step in Your plan; grant me the generosity necessary to follow your call; and grant me the courage required to take up my cross and to follow you. Show me your will, O gentle and eternal God, and help me to say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it
be done to me according to your word.” Let me say with Jesus, “Let not my will be done, but yours.” Amen

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest