Vatican official highlights increase in priestly vocations

English and Welsh Vocations Directors

English and Welsh Vocations Directors

There has been an increase in the number of seminarians in more than 20 countries around the world. 

In a speech to the English and Welsh Vocations Directors' Conference held at the Palazzola near Rome, Mgr Francis Bonnici, Director of the Pontifical Pastoral Ministry for Priestly Vocations, said England and Wales were among those countries that is seeing an increase in priestly vocations. Provisional statistics indicate that the number of men commencing seminary formation in September 2009 for the dioceses of England and Wales was in the forties (these statistics will be published in the Spring of 2010).  Mgr Bonnici spoke about the ministerial priesthood and the union between the seminarian and Christ.  He cautioned against being too generalised in vocations promotion.

A new document to be published in 2011 will draw upon the letters and addresses of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on the ministerial priesthood.  It will help those who work in vocations ministry strengthen those parts of their ministry dedicated to fostering and encouraging this unique vocation to share in the priesthood of Christ.
Reflecting on his time at the conference, Mgr  Bonnici said: "It was very enriching for me to participate in the meeting of the Vocation Directors of England and Wales. What struck me most was the great interest which they have in vocations to the priesthood. Looking at the table where there were the pamphlets and programmes in print, I could notice that there is a true focus in the pastoral ministry for vocations. Listening to the discussions and talking to individuals, I felt that the promotion of vocation is very central to the Directors".

The conference took place against the backdrop of the 'Year for Priests' and the celebrations of the re-opening of the church at the Venerable English College. Delegates joined current and former Rectors of the College, including Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, for Mass and a festive supper.

The new chairman of the Conference, Fr  Stephen Langridge said: "Every diocese has to face up to the challenge of promoting priestly vocations and yet, in many places the Vocations Director is part-time. The Conference therefore fulfils a unique and vital role in supporting the Vocations Directors of England and Wales, enabling us to share good ideas and to help each other in practical ways at local and regional levels.  As the newly elected chairman, I am very conscious of the importance of encouraging my fellow Vocations Directors and I look forward to working with them to develop new strategies for the promotion of priestly vocations particularly among the teenagers and younger men of our dioceses".

The conference was attended by eighteen priests, representing sixteen dioceses. The conference also saw the election of a new Vocations Directors' Committee:

Fr Stephen Langridge, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark as chairman.

Fr Paul Grogan, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Leeds as vice-chair.

Fr Paul Turner, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton as treasurer.

Source: Vocations Directors Conference

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