Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vocation Discernment Weekend for Men & Women

Next Friday we start a special Vocations Discernment Weekend for men and women here at the Vocations Centre. We all have a specific vocation from Christ be it to marriage, consecrated life, apostolic celibacy or ordained ministry. For many the difficult part is working out what that vocation is and also sometimes having the courage to put ourselves in the Lord's hands and allow him to lead us forward.
During this weekend we will look at some of the fundamentals of vocations discernment starting with our baptismal call to holiness and the requirements of Christian discipleship. We will look at some of the traditional signs we expect in vocations discernment and also at some of the things that hold us back.
This weekend is for young adults under thirty years of age. As we get older some of the signs are harder to discern and I am happy to run a similar weekend for older people if anyone is interested. Feel free to contact me by email at the Vocations Centre.
It is a weekend open to men and women but please bear in mind our accommodation is very limited - so you need to book early! For an application form, or to enquire about a weekend for older people, please contact me here.

Some Photos from the Diaconate Ordination

I am very grateful to Dominic Lau from St John's Seminary for sending me the photographs he took at last December's diaconate ordination. Two Southwark men were ordained deacon at the Mass. They, along with two more students who were ordained deacon in January and Leonard Tatt, who was ordained to the diaconate in Rome last June, will be ordained priests in July this year.
The Entrance Procession as it approaches the Altar in the Chapel at St John's Seminary
Southwark student Tom Lynch is just visible on the left hand side of the photo. Sam Davey is on the right.

Bishop Kieran Conry with two newly ordained deacons from Oscott: Frankie Mulgrew and Dan Fitzpatrick. They produce the Vocation Podcasts.

Bishop Kieran ordains Sam by the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination.

Tom Lynch receives the laying on of hands. Southwark student Peter Littleton is in the background.

Three of the five newly ordained deacons now vested in stole and dalmatic.

After the ordination a celebratory photograph in front of one of the altars dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Clergy

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Amazon Wish List

Many thanks to our benefactor who sent a copy of "There Be Dragons" from the Amazon wish list. A number of young people had asked about it and it is good now to have a copy at the Vocations Centre. Thanks also for your prayers. they are the bedrock of our work here.

Marriage Discernment Weekend

Life is getting back to normal after a busy couple of weeks at the Vocations Centre. As I mentioned in the previous post we had a marriage discernment seminar here last weekend. We also had a religious brother staying for a few days of prayer and reflection as he prepares to renew his vows this week and, the week before we had a group of young people here for a week-long retreat.
The photograph above shows Fr Richard Aladics and some of the participants in the marriage course. 
Reflecting on the theme of the Vocations Centre, that "Discipleship Discerns Vocation", and my recent trip to NET Ministries in the United States, it seems to me that even before weekends like this one (excellent as it was) there is a need for some formation in topics such as masculinity and femininity. I realise, of course, that saying that will conjure up in some people the spectre of putting girls in pink dresses while sending lads out to chop down trees. But that is not what I mean! In marriage we speak of the complementarity of the sexes and so I am speaking of the need to explore the ways in which the sexes complement each other. I'd be interested to know what readers think.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Discerning Marriage Weekend

We have a full house this weekend at the Vocations Centre as young men and women from all over the country have gathered together to reflect on Matrimony as a specific vocation within the Church. Over the weekend they will be looking first of all at the nature of Christian Relationships. This will lead into a discussion of marriage in contemporary culture and in the words of Christ. One session will look at the bigger picture, the social dimension of marriage and family life. Finally the weekend will conclude with a session on what is required if we are to embrace the vocation to marriage.
It is not a marriage preparation weekend in the traditional sense and none of those participating are engaged. Rather it is a chance for young people, open to God's will, to spend some time reflecting on one of the most neglected vocations in the Church.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Contemporary Developments in Vocations Ministry

Fr Christopher Jamison with some of the delegates present
On Tuesday we held the first session of a four-part seminar for members of Religious Congregations to share with them some recent developments in Vocations Ministry and, in particular, the experiences and approach to vocations work developed by the Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors. Fr Christopher Jamison gave the first input of the day, establishing which spiritual traditions the various communities represented were from and their current approach to vocations work. He then developed his presentation at the launch of the National Vocations Framework giving an interesting account of the expectations and culture of "Generation Y' as modern youngsters are sometimes called. This led to a discussion about the self-identity of religious congregations and, to my mind, some very interesting reflections on religious life as it has developed and the possibility of looking at the concept of Secular Institutes as a more suitable identity for some congregations. Fr Christopher spoke of a Community in France where some members wanted to live a more "traditional" religious life(in community and with communal prayer) and others felt called to a greater insertion into the world by living among the people in house of twos and threes. Each sister was given the option of choosing which she wanted to pursue.
After a light lunch which gave the participants the opportunity to meet a group of young adults staying here on retreat, I presented on where we have come from and where we are in our work as diocesan vocation directors. This introduced concepts that are becoming increasingly familiar such as the shift from recruitment to discernment and, more recently, the need to foster discipleship among young adults with the confidence that discipleship discerns vocation.

For information about future events and seminars at the Vocations Centre please email us.

The Southwark Vocations Office looks after vocations in London south of the Thames.

Day of Prayer for Young Women

The Poor Servants of the Mother of God are hosting a Day of Prayer and Reflection for Young Women interested in Religious Life. It will take place at the Kairos Centre, Mt Angelus Road, Roehampton onSaturday 23rd March. The day begins at 10.30am and ends at 4pm.
You can get more information or book your place by calling 020 8788 4188 or emailing the centre.

Thank You

Once again I would like to thank the readers of this Blog who have supported the work of the new Vocations Centre by obtaining items for us from the Amazon wish list in the side bar. We recently had three deliveries of kitchen equipment. It is not always possible to tell who the donor is - so whether you are one person or three, I am very grateful to you for helping us re-stock our kitchen.
All our benefactors are remembered at a Holy Mass I celebrate twice a month for their intentions.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Solemn Profession at Farnborough Abbey

Dom Michael Vician (aged 28) made his Solemn Profession at St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, where he has been a monk for five years. In a ceremony lasting more than two hours, Brother Michael lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor, covered with the funeral pall whilst the Litany of the Saints was chanted, a sign of his death to the world. He then sang the three-fold Suscipe me Domine chant, (uphold me, Lord, according to your promise, and I shall live…) read his chart of profession and was clothed, in accordance with ancient custom, in the Benedictine cowl and presented with the Monastic Antiphoner as a sign that he should ‘put nothing before the Work of God’.

St Michael’s Abbey is a small community of monks, with an average age of 36. They have no school or parish, but live a classic contemplative Benedictine life with a strong emphasis on the Sacred Liturgy, which they celebrate in Latin with Gregorian Chant.

The monastic community welcomed many friends for the occasion. Among them were the Premonstratensian Canons of Chelmsford, Oratorians, Carmelites, Dominicans, Blessed Sacrament Fathers, and Benedictines of other monasteries, including nuns of Tyburn where Fr Abbot has served as confessor for many years.

Bishop Philip Egan,  the recently consecrated bishop of the Portsmouth Diocese in which the Abbey is located attended as a guest of the monks and spoke at the end of the Mass:

In today’s culture,  organised  religion and in particular Christianity, is often side-lined or relegated to the private domain.  Even some of those who do profess a religion, tend to treat their faith in the manner of an ‘added-extra’, a  hobby,  something extrinsic  to the rest of  their  living. Yet  as we saw symbolised  so  powerfully in Bro. Michael’s prostration on the floor of the sanctuary,  covered with the funeral pall, not only for him but  for anyone whom Jesus has called to be his disciple, faith can never be an added-extra. Our love for God, our discipleship of Christ, our Catholic Faith is never just a hobby. It  has to be  the most important thing in life.  My faith is the most important thing in my life.  My love for Jesus Christ has to be the most important thing in my life.  –Because  Jesus Christ and His Gospel is the only way to true, genuine, lasting human happiness and fulfilment. Indeed, as St. Augustine taught, the human heart is restless until it rests in God.  This is why being a disciple of Christ, being a friend of Jesus, being in love with God and giving myself entirely to him, is the most exciting adventure a human being can ever undertake.
Today, we rejoice in the Solemn Profession and Monastic Consecration of Brother  Michael Vician. It’s a wonderful day, a day  of  great joy and happiness, a day never to be forgotten for Bro. Tomas Michael, for his family and for this dear community of  Farnborough Abbey, dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. I thank Abbot Cuthbert for the invitation to be here today as the Bishop of the Diocese in which this Abbey stands.  And so on behalf of all the priests and people of the Diocese of Portsmouth, I invoke the prayers of our  own patron saints and martyrs, above all Mary Immaculate and St. Edmund of Abingdon. May the  Lord bless you abundantly. We wish you, Bro. Michael, every happiness in your vocation and we promise to pray for you that every day you will be faithful to your vows and grow deeper and deeper in love with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Icon Course

Amanda de Pulford, the mother of one of our seminarians is an accomplished iconographer. This year she will be offering two courses/retreats at St Mildred's Abbey, Minster. These will run from 18-24 March and 7-13 July. I have seen Amanda's work and it is very impressive. You can access the poster for the retreat here. The page also contains the following information:

Two fully catered residential courses, hosted by the Benedictine nuns in ancient and beautiful St Mildred’s Priory, Minster-in-Thanet, very near to the site of St. Augustine’s landing in 597. (You can find our more about the Ancient history of the Abbey on the nuns’ website here.)

In this calm and historic setting, you will make an icon using traditional methods and materials not dissimilar to those used in the Abbey Scriptorium in the 7th century.

The courses will provide an opportunity for prayerful contemplation, focused by the work of our hands. You will be welcome (though not obliged) to join the nuns at daily Mass and the daily Office.

Board, gold leaf and pigments will be provided.

There will be a visit to the Abbey Church built by Augustus Welby Pugin at Ramsgate, dedicated to and newly inaugurated as the national shrine of St Augustine of Canterbury. The church adjoins Pugin’s last home and houses his tomb.

There are a maximum of ten places available on each course.
Cost for residents: £435. Cost for non-residents: £275.

A Year of Ordinations

The year 2013 will be a very special one for the Archdiocese of Southwark. On Saturday I was in Bromley to present Valentine Erhahon to Bishop Patrick for ordination as deacon. Valentine, pictured above after his ordination, was joined by friends from all over the world for the occasion. He has been assigned to St Saviour's, Lewisham, at least until his priestly ordination this summer. Valentine is one of seven men preparing for ordination to the priesthood this year. The first two ordinations will take place next Saturday morning at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. The remaining five men are due to be ordained in the summer. Please pray for them all, especially Revv Stuart Meyer and Nicolas von Malaisè, the two men who will be ordained by Archbishop Peter this coming weekend.

Friday, January 11, 2013

From Football to Priesthood

 I thought you might be interested in this video I saw just after getting back from the US. Notice how he thanks the interviewer for allowing him the opportunity to "witness". One of the differences I noticed about young people in the US is that compared to British youngsters they are much less reticent about witnessing to their faith, indeed they regard it as a duty. We have a lot to learn!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

NET Ministries

I am currently sitting in a large auditorium with about 150 young people who are all members of NET Ministry teams this year. Outside the temperature is -10 C and the snow is gently falling: a real winter scene!
Inside the team members are being refreshed in the formation they received at the beginning of last term when they first came to NET (the acronym stands for National Evangelisation Teams). I am impressed that their initial training lasted five whole weeks. The first two weeks were spent in log cabins and consisted of an authentic human formation where the young people learned about human relationships, and the imperatives associated with their dignity as sons and daughters of God. In fact I have noticed that whenever you speak with one of them this sense of divine filiation is very much at the heart of what they do. It is their reason for acting and giving themselves in love to their brothers and sisters. The following three weeks were back at the NET centre here in Minneapolis and were concerned more with equipping them with the spiritual and intellectual formation that would be required before they could go out on the road in teams of twelve or so to run retreats and missions in schools and parishes all over the country.
They are back here for their January training: a chance to refresh what they have already learned and to deepen some aspects of it. There is a lot of time given to prayer and fellowship and some new input as well. I have been asked to give a talk on the Year of Faith and the New Evangelisation.
If I were to sum up in one word what has impressed me most so far the word would be "formation". NET has thirty years of experience distilled into the formation it offers. It recognises that support and formation are key and because it is structured it has the confidence to entrust formation and support to some of the young people themselves.
Each team has two team leaders. Every week the team leaders touch base with team supervisors back at the Centre. The supervisors live in two common houses: one for men and one for women. They themselves receive formation in the course of the year.
There is a great sense of joy and fellowship here. I look forward to learning more!