Vocations Sunday

Vocations Sunday this week marks the launch of the Catholic Church's annual campaign to encourage young men and women to reflect on how they've been called by God and to consider whether priesthood or religious life might be for them.

This year, the strapline for the vocations poster is: 'It's All About Prophets', With a reference to the TV show The Apprentice, a number of men and women are gathered around a boardroom table; some of them have name-plaques indicating the vocational choices they have made whilst others are writing down possible choices to indicate that they are in 'discernment'. The poster and supporting materials are being distributed to over 4000 parishes, university chaplaincies and schools all over England and Wales.

This year's Vocations Sunday also coincides with the launch of the new 'How to Discover your Vocation: Marriage, Priesthood, Consecrated Life, Permanent Diaconate, Single Life; guide, designed to give practical answers to some searching questions:

§ How can I find a good husband or wife?

§ What are the signs that God might be calling me to the priesthood or the consecrated life?

§ What can I do to be more open to my vocation?

And what if you fear that you¹ve missed the boat? If you are pulled towards a certain vocation, whatever your age, then take a step and test that vocation. If God wants you to follow it, he will make things possible, says Fr Stephen Wang, lecturer in philosophy, theology, and pastoral studies at Allen Hall seminary and author of the guide, published by the Catholic Truth Society.

Local Initiatives:

The Southwark Vocations Office has launched a handbook for Parish Vocations Teams - a step-by-step guide designed to help foster an environment in which all are invited to consider and to respond to their call in life. In his opening foreword to the handbook, the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Kevin McDonald says: "The nature of vocation is quite counter-cultural today. So much stress is put on personal choice and this can obscure the fact that the Holy Spirit calls us to think beyond our personal preferences and to give ourselves freely and generously to what the Lord is asking of us."

Late 2009 will also see the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux to England and Wales a time of great grace for the country. This Doctor of the Church has a special appeal to young people because she was only 24 when she died. Parishes have been praying specifically for vocations in the build up to the relics tour because of her youth appeal. St Thérèse of Lisieux brings encouragement and clarity to those seeking to discover what God is calling them to do with their lives: "My vocation, at last I have found it! My vocation is Love."

In the Archdiocese of Liverpool, novenas of Masses will be said in nine parishes on nine successive days specifically for priesthood. Parishioners will be encouraged to pray for priests and to ask that the Lord raise up priests and religious from among the young people of the Archdiocese.

Fr Stephen Maloney, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Liverpool, said: "the Vocations Promotion Team decided to hold the Novena of Masses in different parts of the Archdiocese as part of our preparation for the special day of Prayer. The point is to get people in the Archdiocese praying vocations to highlight the responsibility of all of us to pray for and promote vocations.

"It is important to get people coming in as much as possible. Part of the frustration is that people are out there thinking about a vocation, but for various reasons, hold back. You have to encourage them to take that first important step. And we are all there to help them. I would say to them, trust God and take that first step. Trust that God is calling them, and have the confidence to let go and go for it. They can have a heck of a journey. The message is - come and join us!"

Clifton Diocese Vocations Director Father Robert King has joined with a talented film maker to produce a series of videos celebrating life as a priest.

Father Robert said: "The videos feature interviews with Bishop Declan and some of our priests and were made with the help of Dr Stuart Lyall, a research journalist and film maker. The videos will be serialised on: www.cliftondiocese.com.

"The first will be available from Vocations Sunday. I encourage people to watch the videos. They not only have the potential to be a catalyst in vocational discernment; they provide an insight to our remarkable ministry as priests."

Further reading:
Pope Benedict's Vocation Sunday message: www.vatican.va/
UK Priest: www.ukpriest.org
National Office For Vocation www.ukvocation.org/home.html

Or visit ICN's Links page which has a number of Vocations websites.

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