Sunday, April 26, 2009

Discovering Priesthood Day

Yesterday we had another of our Discovering Priesthood Days. We try to hold these in different parts of the diocese and it was nice to be back at Lewisham where we were made so welcome last year. It was our largest Discovering Priesthood Day so far with lads from all over South East London as well as a good group from Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Once again we were looked after by the Union of Catholic Mothers - including Pearl who deserves a special mention because it was her 80th birthday.

Fr Sean O'Connor led the day which began with a testimony from Fr Marcus Holden who recently moved to Tunbridge Wells after three years in Balham. There was also a showing of the film 'Fishers of Men'. Bishop Patrick Lynch joined us for the day and spoke of his religious vocation (he is a Picpus Father). After questions I spoke about the call to holiness and the practical ways in which we live it. Holy Mass was followed by lunch and sports. Fr Chris Connor, the parish priest, treated us to a takeaway from a local Indian restaurant that apparently has a Sacred Heart statue amongst its panoply of Hindu gods.

After the lunch break I spoke more directly about the different vocations in the Church and how to discern them. We then had our usual 'Priest on the Hotseat' session with questions ranging from "Why do you wear a collar?" to "If God is spirit how can he have an image?" The day ended with Benediction in the Church.

Discovering Priesthood Days are easy to organise because the formula is straightforward. It's good to have a priest who will speak enthusiastically about his vocation and priestly life. The film 'Fishers of Men' offers a different medium for raising questions about priesthood. Mass, Confessions and a time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament are important. So is having some outside space where youngsters can run around and shake off some energy. After all, we want them to go home feeling they've had a really enjoyable day! It is the sort of thing a Parish Vocation Team can organise inviting, perhaps, all the other parishes of the Deanery to send youngsters. Those who come need not be thinking explicitly about priesthood - altar servers and confirmation candidates would be good groups to target.

Do these days have any effect? I'm sure they do but don't take my word for it. Here's an email that arrived this morning:
The day was wonderful. Thanks for organising it. Here is my email. Please inform me of any programs going on. I will try my best to come to it.

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