By Sarah Mac Donald - 09 May, 2014
“To choose a life as a priest or religious in contemporary Ireland is a radical option, although a hugely fulfilling one” Bishop Donal McKeown, the chair of the Bishops’ Council for Vocations, has said.
He was speaking ahead of World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
This year’s theme is ‘Vocations: Witness to the Truth’.
The Bishop of Derry invited anyone hearing God’s call who wishes to discern their vocation to speak to a priest or religious, or go to vocations.ie for a list of contacts for vocations directors around Ireland.
The Bishop also welcomed this year’s vocations message from the Pontiff saying, “Pope Francis has a simple way of both speaking and living. He has used many memorable phrases and images to communicate the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ – but, most of all, he shares that joy in the way he interacts with people.”
However, Bishop McKeown warned that this Gospel joy “is not just a pleasurable feeling, or a type of spiritual candyfloss, rather it is a joy born of mission.”
“In his recent encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes of the ‘unruly freedom’ of the Word of God, for ‘we are neither its masters or owners, but its guardians, heralds and servants’.”
“In this year’s message, the Pope calls for heroes who will go into the great harvest where many people are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. ‘And the harvest will be plentiful’,” he said.
In his message for Vocations Sunday, Pope Francis says joy enables disciples to venture beyond the narrow limits of their comfort zones.
That means taking risks, being prepared to journey, allowing God to be God in their lives.
Pope Francis says, “A vocation is a fruit that ripens in a well cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service, in the context of an authentic ecclesial life. No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people.”
Speaking ahead of Vocations Sunday, Fr Willie Purcell, National Coordinator for Diocesan Vocations said, “We have developed resources for Vocations Sunday for the benefit and use of parishes.”
“The promotion of priesthood or religious life is an all year round task and these resources have been prepared with that in mind.”
The Ossory priest continued, “Vocations Sunday is an opportunity to encourage people to think about how they are serving God and whilst every priest is a vocations director, the task of nurturing new vocations must be the responsibility of the whole parish community.”
Mass for Vocations Sunday will be broadcast from the RTÉ studios in Dublin on Sunday 11 May.
Bishop McKeown will celebrate the Mass and will preach the homily.
This Mass will be simulcast on RTÉ One television, RTÉ 1xtra / LW252 / digital platforms from 11.00-11.45am.
Fr Willie Purcell is coordinating the Mass on behalf of the Bishops’ Council for Vocations and Sr Moira Bergin rsm is musical director.
The opening animation will broadcast scenes from the national seminary in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
The text of Pope Francis’ Vocations Sunday message is available on www.catholicbishops.ie and the Twitter hashtag is #vocations2014
A special vocations feature on www.catholicbishops.ie which now includes:
Three new videos for Vocations Sunday in which Bishop McKeown reflects on:
– this year’s message for Vocations Sunday from Pope Francis
– the importance of prayer for vocations
– how parishes can create a vocations culture
Separately, a series of written reflections entitled ‘A Day in the Life of a Not So Typical Life’ in which a seminarian, a diocesan priest, a religious brother, a missionary brother and a religious sister share in detail what a typical day in their life is like.
Seminarian Robert Smyth, Father John Coughlan, Brother Martin Bennett Ofm Cap, Brother Michael O’Donoghue and Sister Maria Sidorova offer an insight into the prayer, spirituality and practicalities of an average day.