By Sarah Mac Donald - 11 May, 2014
Potential vocations are all around us – in our football clubs, in our bands, in our schools, in our colleges, and in our families, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has said.
In a special letter to be read out at masses in parishes across his diocese for Vocations Sunday, Bishop Denis Nulty said parishes must ask themselves when they last produced a vocation.
He asked the faithful in 56 parishes across counties Carlow, Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Wexford to make an effort to support and not discourage young people from considering the priesthood.
According to Bishop Nulty, parents and friends need to encourage young people who might be considering priesthood and reassure them.
Priesthood, the Bishop said, offers them an opportunity to “bring hope and healing to many.”
“If you are interested in healing wounds, extending compassion, warming hearts and offering forgiveness, then priesthood may be for you,” Bishop Nulty said.
In his first pastoral letter on vocations to the people of Kildare and Leighlin, Bishop Nulty recalled that “On the day of my episcopal ordination I spoke about the importance of every priest being a director and promoter of vocations. I said then, and repeat now: diocesan priesthood is a call, not a career; a way of life, not a job; an identity, not just a role.”
Referring to Pope Francis’ image for the church as a ‘field hospital after battle’, Bishop Nulty said the priesthood might be for those interested in healing wounds, extending compassion, warming hearts and offering forgiveness.
“Priests are called to be accessible, approachable, and available to people and their concerns,” he said.
Thanking the priests of the diocese for their hard work and example, he said young people are attracted to the priesthood by priests who themselves live a joyful, happy priesthood.
“It remains true that the best examples of priesthood are joyful priests who love their faith and who love the Church.”
The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin currently has three seminarians – Sean who is due for ordination this July in Portarlington, David who begins his pastoral placement in Graiguecullen next September, and Mark who is in his early years of formation.
Bishop Nulty urged the faithful to ask themselves, “When was the last time someone was ordained from our parish? How could I actively promote vocations?”
He added, “The parish that prays regularly for vocations will generate vocations. Pope Paul VI said that vocations are an “inescapable indicator of faith and love of individual parish and diocesan communities’.”
Separately, four men and one woman who have all taken the leap and answered the call to priesthood or religious life, have just launched a booklet which provides an insight into their daily lives.
Entitled ‘A Day in the Life of a Not So Typical Life’, the seminarian, diocesan priest, religious brother, missionary brother and religious sister share in detail what a typical day in their life is like.
One of the contributors, Capuchin friar, Bro Martin Bennett Ofm Cap says he begins his day “with a short, yet fervent, prayer, ‘Dear Lord, just five more minutes’” before his alarm gets him up at 6.15am.
He then joins the friars and some members of the public for meditation at 6.30am, followed by Mass and Morning Prayer at 7am.
The young friar is in his 6th year with the Capuchin Franciscans and is currently studying theology & philosophy in All Hallows College, Drumcondra.
He lives in a community with seven other friars in Dublin and is involved in the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless which serves over 700 meals each day.
“Since joining, I have had the opportunity to live in Oxford and Zambia, working in varied apostolates with young people, drug addicts, psychiatric patients and the homeless,” he said.
Writing about the close of the day, seminarian Robert Smyth said that at 9pm several evenings per week, the community in the seminary gathers for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a time of intimate prayer with Jesus.
Night prayer follows at 9.45pm, a time to examine my conscience to ask God’s mercy for my failings of the day and to thank him for his many blessings.
“Once the Blessed Sacrament has been reserved and the Marian hymn sung, the day formally draws to a close. I say formally as it’s not uncommon for friends to gather for a good chat over tea, snooker, table tennis and other distractions.”
“A healthy balance between prayer, work and recreation is important. The patterns we establish now as seminarians will sustain us in our priesthood. So too will the friends we make. Another day begins after a good night’s sleep.”