Monday, 29 July 2013

Thinking and Acting on Call to Priesthood

Tom Kent - new A&B seminarian
Tom Kent who is with the diocesan pilgrimage in Lourdes and is about to start his preparation year for priesthood at Vallodalid in Spain reflects on the call to priesthood:
"It has been almost eight months since I moved from the quiet rural intimacy of Wadhurst, into the bustling parish of Horsham. Over a year ago, when Fr Terry Martin, the diocesan vocations director, called me to say that I would be moving, I could never have imagined exactly what life there would be like; a parish where the average size of a weekday congregation is bigger than the sum total of the Sunday Masses in Wadhurst! 

My point is not that I felt unprepared or unwilling to face the reality of what priesthood really is, -a busy life surrounded by countless different people- but that I did not know for sure what was awaiting me. If I look back to a time when I was only just considering the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, I could never have imagined that I would even go on a parish placement at all. I had a few ideas of what it might be like to celebrate the Mass, hear confessions and give homilies, but I had no actual "plan" for becoming a priest. 

Simply put, I had a vague idea in the back of my mind which was one of many aspirations. For example, at one time I was very interested in the possibility of becoming an architect, or a doctor; a husband and a father. This begs the question, therefore, as to what it is that transforms a humble aspiration into a Christian vocation? Why am I now on a parish placement, discerning a vocation to priesthood, when there were so many other options? All of our 'life choices' are definitely possible vocations, and I have no doubt that countless numbers of people have wondered what life might have been like had they done something else with it. 

Consider all of those young people who, at about this time, are revising hard for GCSE and A-level exams and are giving serious thought to their futures. How can any of us possibly discern a vocation when there are so many possibilities and distractions, so many temptations and so much stress? The answer is Christ, always Christ; turn to him and you cannot go wrong. Even if you think to yourself, "I don't have the right life style, I don't have the time, I don't have the money or the experience," Christ is still the answer. These are all valid doubts, of course, but Christ does not want us serve him because of these things. He wants us to serve him because of who we are, because he loves us for who we are. Whilst I very much hope that there are young men -perhaps still hiding away in the corners of this diocese- who will soon give some serious thought to priesthood, it is each one of us who has a specific call to a particular service. This is the true meaning of vocation! There is one thing to which we are all called, and that is to holiness.

I am beginning to understand, for it's a long journey, growth in holiness is the first step of discernment; to grow in holiness it is necessary for us to discover a relationship with Jesus. We must be devoted to him in prayer. We must adore him in the Blessed Sacrament, not out of mere piety but out of love, the same love that we must share with the world around us: we must love like him. If we are totally open to Christ, if we are willing to follow him by offering to him everything that we do and everything that we are, we shall hear his voice. Jesus never stops calling out to us, the only reason that we might not hear him is because we might not be listening! We must be totally open to what he wants of us and we must be willing to work hard with ourselves, to allow him to penetrate our lives. This is indeed a lifelong challenge, and there is no guarantee that we will succeed, but if we take our faith seriously, it is the most important thing we shall ever do! 

When I first arrived in Horsham, those eight months ago, it was a great challenge to me; firstly because I knew absolutely nobody, but secondly because, as I have already mentioned, I had no idea of how my time here might unfold. I simply placed my trust in Christ. Whilst still very far from any sort of perfect relationship with Christ, it is was with immense gratitude that, last week, I told the people of Horsham parish that my time with them has only ever been beneficial in helping me to discover him more deeply. It is my prayer that we, as a diocese, will continue to promote vocations- especially to the priesthood- and that we will inspire each other to grow in faith and love of Jesus."

Please pray for Tom, Alex and Joe who all start there seminary formation this year. 
To find out more about vocations in the diocese go to the A&B Vocations Website

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