New approach to vocations recruitment


Archbishop Peter Smith with seminarians from Southwark at St John's Seminary, Wonersh

Archbishop Peter Smith with seminarians from Southwark at St John's Seminary, Wonersh

This September saw the numbers entering English seminaries to become Catholic priests at their highest level in a decade. 56 men began the journey towards priesthood this year. At their annual conference held last week at Oscott seminary in Birmingham, the diocesan Vocations Directors of England and Wales discussed the approaches to vocations work that have contributed to this increase.

Fr Stephen Langridge, who is chairman of the Conference, spoke of the shift in attitude from recruitment to discernment in vocations work. Although much more time-consuming, it is ultimately much more fruitful. It also helps dispel any suspicion that a diocesan vocations director is coming, like the Pied Piper, to whisk young men off to the seminary and so helps allay concerns of religious orders or those who work with young people in our dioceses. "The first task", said Fr Stephen, "is to put young men and women in contact with Christ. He will do the rest".

Many dioceses and religious orders now run discernment groups for young men and women where all vocations are discussed. The Quo Vadis discernment group continues to flourish in Southwark and two of its members have now joined the seminary. A similar group has been established in Birmingham. The Compass project, which began at Worth, is also going strongly and a second group, Compass North West, has begun in the northern province.

Fr Stephen also spoke recently to the Irish Vocations Directors at their annual meeting to explain some of the recent developments in vocations ministry in England and Wales.

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