By Susan Gately - 12 May, 2019
"I am very keen to encourage and nurture vocations to the priesthood from among our own young people, many of whom have strong faith and great gifts to offer our Church. How might this be done?” asks Archbishop Eamon Martin.
In a pastoral message issued today for Vocations Sunday, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has called upon people to get involved in the question of priestly vocations at first hand by taking part in a consultation process in the diocese.
“For many years the families and parishes of Ireland provided large numbers of priests for both home and the missions overseas. We are blessed in the Archdiocese of Armagh to have twenty-one young men preparing in Dundalk, Maynooth and Rome to serve as priests in our diocese. Most of these are coming to us from abroad,” he writes.
“However I am still very keen to encourage and nurture vocations to the priesthood from among our own young people, many of whom have strong faith and great gifts to offer our Church. How might this be done?”
To help answer this question, the Primate of All Ireland has invited “all people in the diocese” to prayerfully reflect in the coming weeks on two questions “to help us plan for more vocations to the priesthood” in the diocese: 1. What is the most important role that the priests of tomorrow will play in our diocese? 2. What qualities will the priests of tomorrow need to have for our diocese?
Members of the public are to send their responses by email to [email protected] or by post to Diocesan Vocations Commission, Ara Coeli, Cathedral Road, Armagh BT61 7QY, by 30 June 2019.
In his pastoral message Archbishop Martin also asked the faithful to pray with him “for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, and to generous Christian service in marriage and the single life.”
Meanwhile in his message for the 2019 World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis urges young people who experience a call to religious life to have the the courage to risk making a decision.
“The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom; it is not a ‘cage’ or a burden to be borne. On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking. He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch,” writes Pope Francis.
“Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.
“Embracing this promise naturally demands the courage to risk making a decision,” he continues. “The first disciples, called by Jesus to be part of something greater, ‘immediately left their nets and followed him’ (Mk 1:18). Responding to the Lord’s call involves putting ourselves on the line and facing a great challenge. It means being ready to leave behind whatever would keep us tied to our little boat and prevent us from making a definitive choice. We are called to be bold and decisive in seeking God’s plan for our lives.”
In his message for Vocations Day Pope Francis also talks about other vocations which contribute to the growth of God’s kingdom in the world. “I think of the decision to marry in Christ and to form a family, as well as all those other vocations associated with work and professional life, with the commitment to charity and solidarity, with social and political responsibilities, and so forth. These vocations make us bearers of a promise of goodness, love and justice, not only for ourselves but also for our societies and cultures, which need courageous Christians and authentic witnesses of the kingdom of God.”
In his pastoral message Archbishop Eamon Martin encouraged Catholics to say the prayer for vocations of the St Joseph Young Priests’ Society:
O Jesus, send labourers into your fields which are awaiting holy apostles, saintly priests, heroic missionaries and dedicated sisters and brothers.
Enkindle in the hearts of men and women the spark of a vocation. Grant that Christian families may desire to give your Church helpers in the work of tomorrow.