Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Vocations Retreat at St John's


Last weekend I was at St John's Seminary for our annual Vocations Retreat. In recent years this retreat has become so popular that the seminary has barely been able to accommodate all of us, even with a good number of participants sharing rooms. Now that we have established the Vocations Centre in the diocese things are a little easier as we are able to host a number of retreats here throughout the year. This means that I could decide to keep the Wonersh retreat for this year's applicants and those who seemed more fully integrated into our vocations work.
In all there were twenty of us at the seminary: seventeen participants and two priests helping me: Fr Terry Martin from Arundel and Brighton and Fr Mark Hogan from Portsmouth. Fr Terry and Fr Mark had five men each and I had six from Southwark, three of whom are applying this year. Additionally there was a candidate from Clifton diocese where the new Vocations Director is settling in and planning an exciting programme of activities for the future.
We began on Friday night with a meditation during the Holy Hour on the purpose of a retreat. I took as inspiration the words above the doorway to the seminary chapel: "Magister adest et vocat te" - the Master is here and he is calling you. On Saturday the meditations covered prayer and the Eucharist and on Sunday we focused on the need to respond and on the importance of taking part in diocesan discernment groups.
Being in the seminary we were also able to call on a number of the seminarians to speak to us after lunch about their own vocational journey. These are always very personal but can also be very moving and touch different people in different ways.
One big omission was the group photo! We forgot to take one, so instead the picture above is the Lady Chapel at the seminary where Our Lady is invoked under the title Queen of Clergy.

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