First Invocation festival - 'a great success'

Prayers by candlelight Pic: J Lopuszynski

Prayers by candlelight Pic: J Lopuszynski

Around 150 young Catholics gathered at St Mary's College, Oscott,  Sutton Coldfield over the weekend,  to explore their life choices at Invocation 2010.

The event included lectures, workshops, daily Mass, Adoration, time for prayer and reflection and a candlelit Rosary Procession and Benediction.

Speakers included the Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols,  Fr Christopher Jamison of Worth Abbey who featured in the series 'The Monastery'. Sister Gabriel Davison, a Poor Clare nun from the community near Arundel, featured in the BBC's 'The Convent', and  Dr Andrew O'Connell, from the Presentation Brothers in Ireland.

Fr Stephen Langridge, Chairman of the Vocations Directors of England and Wales said: "Research from different parts of the world suggests that a major reason young people do not pursue a vocation is not that they did not hear Christ's call, but that they had no-one to talk to about it. They didn't know how to interpret that call.If Jesus is calling these young people, we want, above all, to make space for them to hear that call."

Newly ordained Deacon Craig Szmidt from Newcastle, welcomed the initiative. He said: "Nothing like this happened when I was beginning my formation and thinking about whether God was calling me to be a priest...I think looking back,  it would have been a daunting thing to do to come on my own to an event where there was going to be two hundred young people. But I think it's good because it encourages people to be open about what they're feeling."

"It's been a phenomenal success," said Oscott Seminary Vocations Director Fr Paul Moss.  "All we hoped for was that this would provide young people with the opportunity to come and discern their vocation, to make new friends, and to have fun in fact, and I think on all three counts it's been a great success."

"I was told that one young girl actually misread the advertisement for this weekend.  She thought it was going to be just a general retreat for young people, and she came and realised it was something quite different, and she said it's changed her life. She hasn't discovered a vocation to religious life, but what it has done is deepen her faith and opened up a whole new way of seeing living the Christian life."

His words were echoed by Archbishop of Birmingham, Most Rev Bernard Longley. "This has been a wonderful weekend and I think it's probably exceeded expectations.  I want to thank the team who've organised the Invocation Weekend which has been here at Oscott.  I'm delighted that people have come from all over the country.  I think it just shows that there is an interest right across the country in exploring the call of God today despite all the difficulties that are there in the background.

On Saturday afternoon, the Archbishop of Southwark, Most Rev Peter Smith  said: "I am very impressed with the number of youngsters here. We had a lovely Mass this morning in the chapel at Oscott College here - full participation from everybody, the singing was great."

"I'm impressed that we've managed to arrange this on a national basis.  I think the youngsters won't be making decisions this weekend, but they'll have a lot of input.. He added: "It wasn't for me when I was young, but if we persevere with it, God guides us and we come to a decision which is then confirmed by the Church in various ways and then we know we're doing what is right."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "This is good news.  We've just heard a young man say that in his experience the Catholic Church is young and just so modern.

"This weekend is full of vitality, full of hope, and not surprisingly a very very happy experience."

Invocation 2010 was organised by the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham in co-operation with the other Catholic dioceses of England and Wales, the National Office for Vocation based at the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and Compass.


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