Sunday, November 11, 2012

Vocations Directors Conference

Over the last few weeks I've been working on preparations for our forthcoming Vocation Directors Conference which starts tomorrow at St John's Seminary, Wonersh. Every diocese will be represented except, sadly, Menevia where the Vocations Director can't get away because he has three funerals in the course of the week. Very few dioceses in England and Wales have full-time Vocations Directors and so most have to combine the role with at least one other major responsibility. Given the importance of our work in matters to do with the selection of candidates and safeguarding procedures, it may be sensible for bishops to consider appointing an assistant to the Vocations Director. Both Nottingham and Salford diocese have two priests sharing the role which ensures that at least one can usually get to the Conference. This year we will also be welcoming two delegates from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Ordinariate is in the enviable position of having, in a sense, a surfeit of priests and many dioceses are benefitting from the help they can offer in parishes and chaplaincies. It will be interesting to hear from Mgr Burnham whether he regards this as temporary in that many of the Ordinariate priests are also nearing retirement. It will also be interesting to hear what plans, if any, there may be for the establishment of an Ordinariate seminary.

This year we will be looking at the new Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry. If you haven't read them yet you really should. They are available on this blog by going to the relevant page tab at the top. It is the Year of Faith and we have just had the Synod on Evangelisation so we will also be looking at some of the Vocational Challenges of the New Evangelisation. A major theme of our conference will be how we might get more priests involved in the work of promoting and supporting vocations. In addition to the talks already mentioned, another key presentation will look at spiritual direction and the spirituality of diocesan priesthood.

Oftentimes it is simply a question of giving priests confidence. Please pray that our Conference this year will be a great experience for us all.


Dan Fitzpatrick said...

Hope it goes well Fr. Stephen. Will be praying for you all!

Tonia Marshall said...

I'd be interested to know what next steps are available to school age children (10-14) who are thinking about the priesthood or religious life (particularly children not in Catholic schools). What can parents and parishes do to support them until they get to the Young Adult stage or is it just a matter of wait and see?

Fr Stephen said...

Thanks Dan - we are looking forward to your ordination. Not long now!

Tonia, that precise question has already come up in a number of different contexts at our conference - and we only started this afternoon. Some dioceses have programs in place or in preparation. Others are developing ideas.

An interesting statistic is that a high proportion of ordinands report first thinking about priesthood when they were ten or eleven. Another interesting fact is the number of dioceses which report that none of their ordinands were at Catholic schools.
Hope to be able to say more at the end of the week.

Ian Babb said...

I would hope there is more than just a "wait and see" approach available to the young which are inspired enough to follow a calling!

Prayers from all of us here, Fr. Stephen.

Fr Stephen said...

Thanks Ian. Im very pleased, as someone who applied when he was 17, to report that more and more dioceses are actively encouraging and arranging events for young vocations.