The Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter is always about Jesus “the Good Shepherd”. As priests are mean to me be shepherds after the heart of Christ (c.f. “I will give you shepherds after my own heart”, Jer: 3:15), the Church has traditionally asked called this Sunday ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’, a Sunday to promote vocations and to pray for more vocation to the priesthood.
In the 1992 Post-Synodal Apostol Exhortation called ‘Pastores Dabo Vobis”, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote: “Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19) and “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19; cf. 1 Cor. 11.24), i.e:, an obedience to the command to announce the Gospel and to renew daily the sacrifice of the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for the life of the world.” (Para 1, PDV)
Here are some of the points from a letter sent to me by Fr John O’Connor, our current Diocesan Vocation Director, and ex-PP of OLV:
In the Western World, we talk of a lack in ‘vocations’. I always maintain that it is never the lack of vocations that is the problem. It is the lack of response. It is hard to sacrifice one’s life for a higher ideal, when that ideal is unclear, and in the Western World, more secularism and materialism are creeping into the life of the populace. Perhaps that is why Dioceses is the Western World that are experiencing a growth in priestly vocations have these things in common:
? They organize prayers for vocations, including days set aside for such endeavour, and special prayers before the Blessed Sacrament;
? There is a ‘clarity’ of faith in the community; they are clear of what the Church teaches and why she teaches what she teaches.
? There is clear identity of the Catholic Priesthood in the faith community – not obscured by a continual misrepresentation of what it is.
Clearly, even we, at OLV, have our part to play if we are serious about the lack of ‘response’: Pray for vocations. Encourage vocations. And may God give us with shepherds after His own heart. Pray for vocations to the priesthood; better still encourage young and not-so-young men to think if they have such a calling. If the experience of the US is anything to go by, it has been reported that the 93% od the ordination class of 2016 “were encouraged to consider whether God was calling them to priesthood by someone close to them…”. Clearly God works through us too.
God bless, Fr Michael