Sunday, June 10, 2012
Southwark Appoints a Full Time Vocations Director
The Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith, has appointed Fr Stephen Langridge as full-time Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, with a view to establishing the UK’s first dedicated residential centre for nurturing a culture of discipleship and vocations promotion. Announced last week, Fr Langridge, who currently serves as Parish Priest of the Holy Ghost, Balham, and as part-time Vocations Director for the Archdiocese, will take up in the post in September 2012. It is the first time in over thirty years this has been a full-time post.
Since he began vocations work in 2005 the number of seminarians in Southwark has more than doubled with 26 men currently accepted by the diocese as students for the priesthood. At a national level he serves as Chairman of the Conference of Diocesan Directors of Vocations and has been instrumental in promoting the Quo Vadis model of discernment group, and the highly acclaimed Invocation festival, now in the third successive year. Earlier this year he produced The Calling a vocations DVD for use in schools and parishes. He has also worked on a number of publications including a collection of Stories of Priestly Vocations published by St Paul’s, and Transitions a contemporary photographic gift book for young adults.
Speaking of the announcement he said, “I am grateful to the Archbishop for this exciting opportunity to expand the work of promoting vocations in the diocese. Moving from a model of recruitment to discernment means that we must be prepared to invest time and resources into vocations work. The establishment of a new Vocations Centre will give us the opportunity to host events and retreats for young people, and also to give training and support to laypeople, clergy and Religious working with them”.
It has also been announced that Monsignor Gerald Ewing will be the new Parish Priest of the Holy Ghost, Balham, where Fr Stephen has served for the past sixteen years. “Balham has been an amazing to place to work as a priest”, said Fr Langridge, “We have sown the seeds of the Gospel, grown the congregation, developed an enviable programme of catechesis and formation, and gained a fitting reputation for the dignified and reverent celebration of the sacred liturgy. It will be a wrench leaving, but we need new priests to continue this important work - the sanctification of the world. I am privileged to have been asked to contribute to that mission”.
The appointment comes soon after the launch of the National Vocations Framework, which has been adopted by the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. This is the practical expression of the Bishops’ desire to proclaim the universal call to holiness in Christ by promoting a culture of vocation. Regarding how the new National Framework would affect the work of Vocations Directors, Fr Langridge said, “The new National Vocations Framework gives us an exciting opportunity to build on existing good practice, and to share the wealth of experience held by Diocesan Directors of Vocation with the wider Church. It is my hope that the new Vocations Centre, when established, will provide a hub of activity and development of those methods of discernment and discipleship which have borne so much good fruit already in our diocese”.
In the coming weeks the plans for the establishment of the Vocations Centre will be finalised, with the objective of opening the doors of the new centre in time for the start of the 2012-2013 academic year.