Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spoof Memorandum

Years ago I met the Vocations Director from Lincoln Nabraska. The North American College had lots of students from that diocese and I asked him his secret. "It's simple" he replied, "I don't let anyone go forward unless I've spent a hundred hours with them". If I remember rightly he was also university chaplain which probably facilitated the hundred hours. His comment always emphasised to me the importance of knowing a candidate well over a period of time before they apply to the seminary. I was reminded of it forcibly when I joined the diocesan Vocations Team and heard one of the previous Vocations Directors comment that in his experience it was 'last in first out' - in other words students who come along at the last minute are often the ones most likely not to complete their formation.
So it's important to know a candidate well. The dangers of a superficial knowledge are amusingly brought out in the following spoof Memorandum I was sent recently:

To: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Nazareth.
From: The Advisory Board for the Church's Ministry.
Subject: Selection of Candidates for Ministry.

Thank you for submitting details of the 12 men you think suitable for Ministry. All of them have now been interviewed by the Board. It is our opinion that most of the Candidates are lacking in the background, education and vocational aptitude necessary for full time Ministry:

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above vocational commitment. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude and he needs to be sure of his own faith before being involved in Ministry to others.
A bad business reference has been forwarded for Matthew.
James, son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus have unhelpful political opinions and both appear to be manic depressive.

One of the candidates however shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen financial mind (so necessary in today's Church), and has good contacts in government. He is highly motivated and innovative. We can certainly recommend Judas Iscariot without hesitation as being an outstanding and successful candidate.

We have written to all the candidates accordingly.

I don't know where the 'memorandum' originates, but I can assure you it's not like that in Southwark!

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