Monday, March 26, 2012

Time to Drive some Traffic to the Invocation Website!

I just googled Invocation 2012 and was surprised to see that this year's festival didn't appear on the first page. We need to change that! Do pop over and visit the site and also link to it from your blogs, FB pages and the like. And if you're a member of the Twitterati - tweet!

Here's a video from last year...

Invocation 2012

Night time procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Last year I wrote an article about Invocation 2011. Since we are now planning for Invocation 2012, I thought I'd publish it here for you all to read. You can also download it as a pdf from the Invocation 2012 website.

InVocation 2011 – Getting Ready for Something Big
The Chairman of the Diocesan Vocations Directors for England and Wales draws on his experience to explain why he’s looking forward to this summer’s national Vocations Weekend.
I sometimes wonder what persuades a young person to get into a car, possibly with a lot of strangers, and travel to a Catholic youth festival – particularly if they rarely go to Mass, and especially if they are not Catholics. I doubt it’s the prospect of going home with a “Jesus loves me” t-shirt or a WWJD (“What would Jesus do?”) wristband! Last August, for Sophie, at the Youth 2000 festival in Walsingham, it was the chance of spending a few days camping with her four brothers. For Ollie at New Year, it was the invitation to spend time in London, catch up with friends and find a really good steak house!
If you organise a big gathering of young people something is bound to happen. In my parish I know parents who long ago decided the only way to keep their sanity was to decamp to a hotel when a son or daughter was having a birthday part at home. But my experience is that if you add to the mix some catechesis, a lot of Eucharistic Adoration and the chance to go to Confession that “something” can be pretty powerful. For Sophie the experience of Confession changed her life. She hadn’t intended to go “because I had no plans or desires to change the things I was doing wrong” but when she did she “finally felt like the person God had made, a person I had lost years ago”. For Ollie, who arrived at the retreat proclaiming he definitely wouldn’t become a Catholic, an unexpected meeting with a priest had dramatic consequences. As he wrote later, “instead of giving me lots to think about he rather eased the burden of my thoughts... I’m going to become a Catholic this year”.
Fellowship, Catechesis, Confession and Adoration: a pretty potent mix! The fellowship is important because it lets young people see they are not alone – and whether the group is a million people gathered for World Youth Day, a thousand for the Youth 2000 Walsingham Retreat, or three hundred in a small Church in Balham, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they are no longer alone. Catechesis is also important not just because young people want answers but because sometimes they need help formulating the questions! Confession is really vital because as young people approach the Lord they become aware of how short their lives fall of his love. They have to be reminded that the devil is more interested in keeping them down when they fall than in any particular sin that might trip them up. And Adoration is important because in the end what matters is that they approach the Lord and begin to open their hearts in a loving dialogue with him.
It is often in Adoration that young people hear the gentle voice of Christ calling them to greater generosity and inviting them to follow him along a particular path. At New Year it was no surprise to find that one lad who spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament went home and made an appointment with his vocations director. Another emailed his appreciation and ended with the comment “I won’t lie by saying I haven’t thought about my vocation”.
So I am looking forward to Invocation 2011. It will be only the second time we’ve had a big national vocations event for young adults and I am sure it will be powerful. It’s not a recruitment weekend - so there won’t be any child- snatchers or Pied Pipers enchanting young people to follow them! The focus will be on discernment, which is to say it will be on making space for the Lord and listening to his call. It will be hard work to get three hundred young people to attend but if we do I am sure the Church in this country will feel its effect for many years to come.
Fr Stephen Langridge

What do they promise you?

The Spanish Episcopal Conference have just published this video in preparation for the "Day of the Seminary". It is very much in the style of the snappy videos produced by young Spanish Catholics to promote the Holy Rosary. The English subtitles don't always catch the Spanish original but nevertheless give a good flavour to what is being said. I am very grateful to Pat Ryan for drawing my attention to it.

Of course, if you are looking for a good video on vocations to the priesthood, don't forget to order your copy of "The Calling".

Monday, March 19, 2012

Talking to Clergy

Tomorrow I will be a Worth Abbey to give a presentation on Vocations Promotion to the clergy of Arundel and Brighton Diocese. My plan is to offer an overview of where we are today as regards vocations work. This will include some interesting statistics about the role of priests in promoting vocations to the priesthood. I'd also like to hear from the participants what they think are the obstacles holding priests back from encouraging men to think about their vocation.
A second part of the presentation will look at the paradigm shift that has taken place over the last few years as we have moved from a mentality of 'recruitment' to one of 'discernment'. I'd like to show how this finds its roots in the baptismal call to holiness and to present a scriptural model for vocations work with young people.
Finally I hope to look at the relevance of the New Evangelisation, which will be particularly interesting given the forthcoming Year of Faith, and to identify some of the characteristics of the new movements. I'm also planning to speak on how Eucharistic Adoration is a key means of promoting and sustaining vocations.
This is the second time I've spoken to the clergy of Arundel and Brighton and I am looking forward to being with them again.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Selection Conference

This weekend the Selection Conference takes place at St John's Seminary, Wonersh. There are six men from the Archdiocese of Southwark who will be joining many more from the dioceses of the Southwark Province and also from Brentwood. Over the weekend they will be interviewed about their faith and sense of vocation, about their interests and hobbies, and about their family and cultural formation. The two panels of interviewers will then meet separately on Saturday afternoon to prepare for a plenary session on Sunday morning. During this session they feedback to the Vocations Director their evaluation of the candidates and the recommendation they will make to the Archbishop.
Please pray for all our candidates and also for those from other dioceses.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vocations Retreat

Last weekend eighteen men gathered at St John's Seminary, Wonersh for our annual Vocations Retreat. Participants came from Southwark, Arundel & Brighton and Portsmouth. Pictured here are some of the men gathered before the image of Our Lady, Queen of Clergy which is the title under which Our Lady is venerated at Wonersh.
In the photograph are Fr Mark Hogan, Vocations Promoter for Portsmouth and Fr Terry Martin, the full-time Vocations Director for Arundel and Brighton.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The School Vocation Project

“To be a priest you don’t only have to turn up at Mass, you have to be caring, thoughtful and much more. You receive a special calling from God to request you. It means you want to spread the word of God. You have to support everyone on their journey of life. It’s a great honour.”
“To be a Priest or a Nun you have to be kind. A priest that is in my parish is always helpful and kind he also always puts others before himself. If you talk about kindness, this man he has lots of it.”
“A nice and happy nun came to our school to talk to us about her life and being a nun she was called Sister Maria and she came from the Philippines.”
“Sister Maria is a Carmelite nun, she wears chocolate brown clothes.”

Those are some snippets from the essays that poured in to the Southwark Vocations Office in our first-ever Schools Vocations Project.  Primary schools in the diocese invited local priests or nuns in to talk to the children, who then later wrote up the interviews. The resulting essays were impressive, many of them surprisingly moving, some occasionally comic: “I think if a priest does something wrong at Mass he just carries on. Because then you will know for next time to do it differently.”   “Sister was 18 when she wanted to be a nun but 20 when she became one. That’s because of all the forms she had to fill in.”
Prizes for the best essays went to:  (1st prize) Halle Ralph, St William of York school, Forest Hill, (2nd, jointly,) Michael Donovan and Clare McKeown St Fidelis School, Erith, and (3rd)Mary Fitzmaurice of St Thomas School, Sevenoaks. A number of pupils at schools across the diocese won runner-up prizes or certificates. Every child taking part received a holy medal and a Southwark Vocations wristband.
Final snippet, with a message that if the going gets tough, you just keep going!
“When Fr Michael left school at the age of 16 he went to work at Barclays Bank. He was 18 years old when he applied to be a priest, he had to do 8 years study before be could become a priest and Fr Michael said when he had his Ordination ‘I felt so happy and overjoyed it felt like I had won a gold medal in the 100 metre sprint.”

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Calling

The Calling by Southwark Vocations

The Calling is an exciting new DVD produced by Southwark Vocations specifically to help promote priestly vocations in England and Wales. In it we follow Michael, a young Catholic, as he considers what to do with his life. His parents want him to get a job and his friends think he's silly to be worrying about the future, but Michael is sure there must be a purpose to his life and he sets out to discover it.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols says of The Calling:
"I welcome this new British film that will encourage all young people to discover their calling by spending time in prayer. In an attractive and modern way it invites us to face up to whatever may hold us back and to put our trust in God. It helps us recognise the urgency of saying Yes to God.
A useful resource for schools and parishes, it is also an inspirational film for all Catholic families. The scenes from the Papal Visit make this film by Vast Media a valuable contribution to the Papal Legacy in our country". 

The booklet accompanying the DVD includes a lesson and workshop plans for use in schools and catechetical settings as well as both a handy glossary of terms and a list of web-based additional resources for priesthood and religious life. Those who buy the DVD will also be able to access the members pages of the online Vocations Curriculum website.

The DVD has a run-time of 23 minutes making it ideal for schools. It is available from the Southwark Vocations Office for only £10.00.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Flame Congress

Are you coming to the Flame Congress at Wembley Arena on Saturday 24th March? I hope so. We already have over 7,400 young people who are planning to attend. If you were at World Youth Day you won't need me to tell you why you should be there! If you weren't and realise you missed out, here's your chance for a little taster before Rio!
Are you a teacher or school chaplain? Why not organise a coach - or at least a minibus? From the parish we can get there easily by public transport and we are all looking forward to it.

I really recommend the Flame Congress to you. As it says on the website:

"All in all, Flame Congress will be an event to ignite young hearts and souls afresh with the joy of the Gospel message; it would be devastating for your young people to miss it! Everything you need to book them in is on these web pages. Early bookings will be cheaper, and seats booked early will be better – bookings are open now!"

Click here to visit the website, book your place and watch the video.

Oh, and don't forget to look out for the Invocation publicity over lunch!