“When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said, ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you’”.
‘Becoming a Priest is not primarily our own decision ….. Rather it is the response to a call and a call to love’. [Pope Francis]
‘It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.’ The words Jesus spoke to the Apostles are symbolic and refer not only to the Twelve, but to all the generations of those whom Jesus Christ has called down the centuries. They refer to some in a personal way. We are speaking of the priestly vocation, but we are also thinking of the vocations of men and women to the consecrated life. Vocations are a central concern for the Church, for the Faith, for the future of the Faith in this world.
Every vocation is a gift of God, according to these words of Jesus, ‘I chose you.’ Thus it is a choice, an election by Jesus, one that always concerns the person. However, this person lives in the given context of a family, a society, a culture, a Church. A vocation is a gift, but it is also the response to this gift. How each of us, how the one who is called and chosen can answer this divine call depends on many circumstances. It depends on a certain inner, personal maturity and on cooperation with God’s grace.
This necessitates knowing how to cooperate, how to listen, how to follow. We know well what Jesus said to that young man in the Gospel: ‘Follow me.’ One must know how to follow, and when one follows, then the vocation is mature, fulfilled and realised. This is always for the good of the person and the community.
For its part, the community must know how to respond to the vocations that arise within it. They are born in the family, and the family must cooperate with a vocation. They are born in the parish, and the parish must cooperate with a vocation. These are the circumstances of human life and human existence: existential circumstances.
The response to a vocation depends to a very high degree on the witness of the whole community, the family and the parish. People help vocations to grow. By their example, priests can attract young men and help them respond to Jesus’ words: ‘Follow me.’ Those who have received a vocation must give an example of how to follow it.
In the parish today it is increasingly apparent that movements and associations are contributing in a special way to the growth of vocations and to vocation work. One of the movements or associations that is typical of the parish is that of the altar servers. This fact is a great help to future vocations, as it was in the past. Many who first were altar boys later became priests. This is still useful today, but other ways must be tried: how to cooperate with the divine call, with the divine choice; how to fulfil the words of Jesus: ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few.’ The harvest is always great; the workers are always few, especially in some countries.
However, Jesus urges us to pray for this to the Lord of the harvest. For us all, without exception, there remains the task of praying for vocations. If we feel involved in the redeeming work of Christ and the Church, we must always pray for vocations. The harvest is great!
A diocesan priest is called to serve the people of God. He fulfils the mission of the Church through liturgical and sacramental celebrations, teaching and preaching the Gospel, and upholding the faith of the Church. The Diocese of Down and Connor comprises the entire City of Belfast as well as significant portions of counties Down and Antrim. Diocesan priests serve the 88 parishes and numerous missions, hospitals, schools, universities and social agencies. Bishop Noel Treanor oversees the Diocese and is aided by his auxiliary, Bishop Anthony Farquhar. A number of priests, as well as religious men and women meet the spiritual needs of the people with regard to worship, education and community life. A priest takes on the roles of shepherd, administrator, counsellor, teacher and collaborator. The most important role of the priest is spiritual and sacramental leadership. In his ministry, a priest promotes the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of the people.
Discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life? Are you being called to something greater? We invite you to visit the Diocesan Office of Vocations website. If you have questions about the priesthood, please contact one of the priests of the parish through the parish office or call the Director of Vocations, Father Kevin McGuckien by telephone 02890614567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer to know God’s will
Lord, let me know clearly the work which you are calling me to do in life,
And grant me every grace I need to answer your call
with courage and love and lasting dedication to your will.
Pope Francis has also said: ‘Behind and before every vocation to the Priesthood there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone – a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community ….’
Prayer for our Priests
You came from among us to be, for us, one who serves.
We thank you for ministering Christ to us
and helping us minister Christ to each other.
We are grateful for the many gifts you bring to our community –
For drawing us together in worship,
for visiting us in our homes,
for comforting us in sickness,
for showing us compassion,
for uniting us in marriage,
for baptising our children,
for confirming us in our calling,
for supporting us in bereavement,
for helping us to grow in faith,
for encouraging us to take the initiative,
for helping the whole community realise God’s presence among us.
For our part, we pray that we may always be attentive to your needs
and never take you for granted.
You, like us, need friendship and love,
welcome and a sense of belonging,
kind words and acts of thoughtfulness.
We pray also for the Priests who have wounded Priesthood.
May we be willing to forgive and may they be open to healing.
God our Father, we ask you to bless our Priests
and confirm them in their calling.
Give them the gifts they need to respond with generosity and a joyful heart.
We offer this prayer for our Priests, who are our brothers and friends.