St Patrick's College, Maynooth - the National Seminary - yesterday welcomed 24 new seminarians from around the country to begin their formation training for the priesthood. At the conclusion of the Introductory Programme at the end of September, six of the new seminarians from Northern dioceses will continue their studies at St Malachy's College in Belfast. Welcoming the new candidates, their families and friends to Maynooth, the President of the College, Reverend Professor Hugh Connolly, said: "To be created is to be called by God. The mystery of vocation, or call, is part of God's love for all of us. At the core of each person is a call, or vocation. It is a call to holiness, to becoming a living response to God's love. "In this sense ministry is not just for a chosen few but is mandated to everyone by Baptism," Fr Connolly said. "Every ministry, lay or ordained, involves service. Priests are ordained for a ministry, which at its heart is a call to lead the members of the Church to holiness by loving and serving the people of a parish or diocesan community. They have a unique call to lead parish communities by bringing them the sacraments and other means to holiness offered through the Church. It is especially through presiding at Eucharist that priests live at the centre of the Church and offer members of the Church the most profound gift of God's grace and presence. Additionally by placing their lives at the service of the Gospel they have the responsibility and the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel in ways that inspire and challenge the faithful." Fr Connolly concluded: "Today our thoughts and prayers are with these 24 men who have taken the first step along the road to ordained ministry and to placing their lives at the service of Christ and of his people. As they commence their training, and I begin my own term as President of the College, I believe that together we are embarking on a journey of faith, discovery, leadership and community. Our common goal is the education and formation of leaders: for our church, our country, and our communities. Let us make the most of this stretch of the road that we will share together." At the end of September the total number of seminarians in Maynooth will be 70. A breakdown, by diocese, of the 24 first year seminarians for 2007 is as follows: Achonry, 1; Ardagh & Clonmacnois, 1; Armagh, 1; Cork and Ross, 1; Derry, 3; Down and Connor, 2; Dromore, 1; Dublin, 4; Elphin, 1; Kildare and Leighlin, 3; Killala, 2; Meath, 1, Raphoe, 3 Source: Irish Catholic Media Office
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