Today is a day when we pray to the Good Shepherd to provide more good shepherds to tend His flock. But while today is dedicated to that prayer, I believe that we should be praying for vocations to the Priesthood, Diaconate and Religious Life everyday. Priests don’t just appear, they come from families, like your family and mine. They come from parishes like our Parishes. At the moment in Holy Ghost Parish I am aware of two young men who are responding to a vocation; we have Tom (now known as Brother Aidan) who has joined the Benedictines at Douai and Ryan who is currently studying for the priesthood in Rome. We should remember them and their families in our prayers. We thank God for them.

God calls us all to an individual mission. He has it mapped out for us and He calls us to follow it. Not everyone answers straight away, some never get around to answering. For me, my call to the Diaconate stretched out over several years, probably as many as ten years before I decided to test the call to see if it was God calling me or if it was some notion in my head. I wrestled with the call for so long as I thought there was no way God would want me, I know my faults and failings! Time and time again God calls people from all walks of life to change their direction and asks them to serve Him. I know priests who were teachers or accountants or shop managers prior to answering the call. Likewise I studied for the Diaconate with Project Managers, Mission workers, teachers, doctors, policemen, former Religious Brothers, scientists and engineers. Each of us however, had one thing in common; we all believe that God called us and asked us to serve Him.

If you have an inkling that God is calling you towards a life of service, please don’t dismiss it. Please pray about it and talk to someone about it. The Diocesan Vocations Team (see links in footnote123) have enquiry sessions for men who believe they are being called towards the priesthood. Many religious orders have open days or weekends for people to explore if God is calling them to a specific way of service.

We are very blessed in our Diocese to have priests from other countries to come and help us. It clearly demonstrates our Universal Church, and is a true sign that God is still guiding our Church. Many years ago when vocations were plentiful in Europe, Priests and Religious went out to places like Nigeria, Cameroon and India; sowing seeds and spreading the Gospel. These were known as Missionary territories; these Missions are now sending men here to help keep the flames of faith alive in our country. Through these men, we see the generosity of God in providing shepherds to tend our flock. We are grateful to God and these servants of God for the sacrifices they make to leave their families and their countries to come and serve us.

Of course, each and every Christian has a vocation, God is calling everyone of us to some sort of service. It could be to the Married Life, Single Life, Priesthood or the Religious Life. Some like myself have an additional calling to the Permanent Diaconate. Within these areas of life there are additional vocations, for example as parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, etc. these are callings which God has given people specific talents to enable them to carry out these vocations for the benefit of others.

Today the focus is on Priests as we recognise the calling to be our shepherds. At his first Chrism Mass as Pope, Pope Francis said he wants his priests to be involved in all aspects of their flock’s lives. He wants the shepherds to smell of the sheep. The call of priesthood is not one of living in isolation, it is a call to be with people at their most joyous times, their saddest times, when they worry, when they need support or guidance, helping people to live out their faith and build a truly intimate relationship with Jesus.

While we pray for vocations there is also a need to pay for those who are in training, it costs the Diocese approximately £27,000 per year for each of our 12 students for the priesthood, if you can, please support this vital work which will help to supply our next generation of priests, donations can be made through the link in the Newsletter which is reproduced here …. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocese are fundraising for Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust | Give as you Live Donate

In the past week Pope Francis, as our Chief Shepherd, has called for the month of May to be a marathon month of prayer for an end to the global pandemic4. He is asking all of us to join in by praying the Rosary, he will broadcast the opening and closing of the month long marathon on Vatican news outlets. At least 30 shrines around the world are joining in this initiative. While we in the UK are seeing improvements in our Covid situation there are many parts of the world which are in dire straits. India in particular is seeing its Health Care system on the brink of collapse. There are severe problems in other parts of Asia and in South America. We need to maintain our prayers for these areas and encourage our Government to lobby other World Leaders to initiate a Global Response to a Global pandemic, unless everyone is safe then no-one is safe. We cannot afford to be parochial on this matter. Our brothers and sisters in India and other places are depending on us.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • All those discerning a vocation, may God help them in their discernment.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Ryan, Aidan-Keene, Wojciech and Rory who are being baptised in Holy Ghost Parish this weekend.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 24th April 2021.

1 Priest vocations – https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/priestly-vocations

2 Religious Life vocations – https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/religious-vocations

3 Permanent Diaconate vocations – https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/permanent-diaconate

4 Global Prayer Marathon – available from Pope urges Catholics to pray in May for end to Covid-19 pandemic – Vatican News accessed 24th April 2021.