Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Vocations Campaign in England and Wales

~encouraging signs from Christian Today
The Catholic Church in England and Wales will launch its annual campaign this Sunday to encourage young men and women to consider whether priesthood or religious life might be for them.

Over 4,000 posters and other materials have been distributed amongst parishes, university chaplaincies and schools for the event, which takes place each year on the fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Vocations Sunday.

The materials for schools and colleges explore some key events taking place this year including July’s World Youth Day in Sydney, the 150th anniversary of Lourdes and the Beijing Olympics, all from a related vocational aspect.

The Olympics workshop encourages sixth formers to look beyond the Games and study China's approach to religions, especially the ‘underground’ Catholic Church, which often sees its bishops and priests imprisoned for their faith, and how these clergy remain steadfast in their calling.

This coming week, the bishops of England and Wales, meeting in Leeds, will see statistics compiled by the Church’s National Office for Vocation. These reveal that there are currently 160 men training to become priests in England and Wales, the highest figure for a number of years.

In 2007, 44 men began priestly formation – the same as the previous year, which was the fourth consecutive year in which the Church reported an increase in the number of those beginning seminary.

Whilst the outlook has been more positive over the past few years, the Director of the Church’s Vocations Office, Father Paul Embery, is not complacent but remains aware of the challenges.

“During the 1960s we saw a large number of priests ordained, which was atypical of much of the Church’s history in this country. Many of these are now coming up to retirement age and currently, there are not enough men being ordained to replace them; this has led to many dioceses having to rationalise their deployment of priests as well as trying to encourage a younger generation to consider this calling.”

In addition to this year’s national campaign, individual dioceses are also promoting various local initiatives. Earlier this year, Leeds Diocese published a calendar showing the human side of 12 different priests and Clifton Diocese has recorded a series of videos for Vocation Sunday featuring young men talking about why they decided on priesthood and what life is like in seminary.

Current interest in vocations is encouraging. At a recent weekend of discernment put on by Southwark Diocese, 20 young men turned up wanting to find out more about the priesthood.

No comments: