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‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

FR NICHOLAS PEARCE

Assistant Vocations Director

150 young Catholics joined with men and women religious from across the archdiocese in praying for an increase in Vocations to Religious Life, and for clarity in their own vocations, at the regular Six30 Holy Hour at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the Feast of the Transfiguration.


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The transfiguration itself teaches us a number of lessons about vocations and gives us a few hints on discernment.

Vocations are heard in silence

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves.  As he so often did, Jesus took his closest collaborators away from the noise, business and crowds, so he could share with them something very significant.  Jesus does the same with our Vocations.  It is in the times of stillness and silence that we will hear God’s call to us.  If we want to hear his voice, his call, we must find times of stillness and silence.           

Vocations are born in tradition

Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. At the transfiguration, Jesus appeared transfigured with Moses and Elijah so that the apostle, would know he was the fulfilment of the Old Testament, that his message was in continuity with all that had come before.  This is true also with our Vocations: Jesus calls us, in continuity with all that has come before.  If you want to hear his voice, stay close to his church and her teachings, the lives of the saints and the age-old practices and customs of our faith, for it is in continuity with these that Jesus will continue to call.

Vocation for Mission

Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah…’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.  Although Peter wanted to stay on the mountain, Jesus would not allow it, for he had a mission to fulfil and he needed their help. So too with Jesus’ call in each of our lives. Each vocation, no matter what it is, is a call to mission, to serve God in our brothers and sisters. If we want to do God’s will, we must be ready to go out and ‘wake up the world’.                

The Scandal of the Cross.

The transfiguration was Christ’s way of preparing those closest to him for the scandal of what was to come in his Passion and Death, ensuring they would have the grace to persist in following him.  God’s vocation for each one of us will include some pain and suffering, as following Christ closely always leads us to the cross.  Like at the transfiguration, he will give us all the grace necessary to persevere and flourish, he never calls without giving the accompanying grace to achieve.


 

 

From the Vocations Director

FR DAVID CARTWRIGHT

Director of Vocations 

This past weekend we witnessed the ordination of six men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, bringing the Ordination Class of 2015 to nine men! This is the largest ordination class that we have seen for many years. A reason indeed to give thanks to God and to remind ourselves that we are entering a new springtime in the Church. 


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On September 12, the Archbishop will ordained Deacons Patrick Bradford, Daryl Montecillo, Dong Tran, Justel Callos, Joel Peart and George Feliciouz to the priesthood. Dario Juric will also be ordained as a Deacon at this Mass. In June, Fathers John Paul Mount, Francis Denton and Charles Balnaves were ordained, and are currently working in parishes in Melbourne.

While ordinations are a major event for the Church in Melbourne, other vocational activities to support and encourage those who continue to discern what God’s plan for their life is. 

Each month, our Quo Vadis gatherings attract a group of men for prayer, Mass, a meal and discussion. Our school visits this year offer a number of different formats and we have been able to visit a good number of schools. We are able to tailor a visit to the needs of a school, year level and curriculum. Please contact the Vocations Office to discuss what we can offer. Many enquiries come by email and phone and we are able to help and refer enquirers to those who can assist them.

In August, we celebrated National Vocations Awareness Week. The theme we chose this year was based on the Year for Consecrated Life, called by Pope Francis, ‘Wake up the World’. We invited religious in Melbourne to participate in the youth Holy Hour for the Week to pray for vocations.  Resources for the Week were also distributed to all parishes and schools. 

To coincide with this week, the Archbishop launched the new initiative of a ‘Prayer Campaign’ for vocations. All parishes and communities are asked to pray for vocations to priesthood and consecrated life at Sunday Mass each week until February 2016, the conclusion of the Year for Consecrated Life. Prayer cards and resources have been sent to all parishes. 

The Prayer Campaign is based on a message from Pope Francis for Good Shepherd Sunday in 2013 where he says that ‘…behind every vocation is always the intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community… Vocations are born in prayer, and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit’. The Pope reminds us that prayer is the first and necessary step for any vocation: priesthood, consecrated life and marriage. The one thing that Jesus asked us to do for vocations is to pray: ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest… (Matthew 9:38). 

This is one simple thing that everybody can do to help the ministry of vocations. Please make this initiative known in your parishes and communities. Extra prayer cards are available from the Vocations Office. To date, we have distributed approximately 20,000 prayer cards to parishes and communities in Melbourne. 

In September, the Archbishop will launch a Building Appeal to extend Corpus Christi College. The need to extend the seminary again is a sign that the Lord is listening to our prayers. The Appeal will add an extra eight rooms to our seminary in Carlton. Please consider supporting this Appeal for your future priests. 

I thank all those who continue to collaborate in the important work of vocations: all priests in parishes who witness to the joy of the priesthood; the vocations office staff; and those who pray for and support our work in ways seen and unseen. Together, we continue to build a culture of vocations in our Archdiocese.


 

 

Reflections on Good Shepherd Sunday

On Good Shepherd Sunday, Seminarians from Corpus Christi College visited parishes across the Archdiocese to share their vocations testimony.  Three seminarians share their experiences.


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TRAC NGUYEN

3rd year student at Corpus Christi College

I was sent to Good Shepherd Parish, Gladstone Park. When I arrived at the parish, I thought, ‘Wow, Good Shepherd Parish, it is the right place for me on this Sunday.’ I gave 4 speeches; this included the Sunday Vigil and Sunday Masses. Sitting on the sanctuary, I saw many people, especially young men and women who are involved in the Parish’s activities such as collections, ministers of the word, communion and selling raffle tickets. One sentence from my speech was ‘There is a growing number of vocations in Melbourne.’ And I am sure that vocations in Melbourne are growing because there are many young men, year 7 or 9 and their parents, who came up to me and asked me to pray for their children.

Good Shepherd Sunday was a valuable experience for me. It was not only that I had an opportunity to meet many people who are outside the seminary, but it was also an uplifting experience on my spiritual journey toward priesthood. I realised that I am not alone in this journey because there are many parishioners who assured me of their prayers. 

NIRMAL NANAYAKKARA 

3rd year student at Corpus Christi College

I must say that any initial apprehension I had at sharing part of my vocational journey with the parishioners of St Fidelis were completely put to rest upon my arrival. I was deeply moved by the warmth and love shown to me during my time there. I was inspired by their fervent love for God, a love which they shared with great joy at home and in the community. The weekend reminded me once again of the reason I joined the seminary in the first place. That is, to be a part of people’s lives in an intimate way, to share their joys and sorrows and be united in the hope that Christ loves us and has given his life for us all. I thank all the parishioners of St Fidelis for the gift of their presence and love.

MARCUS GOULDING

6th year student at Corpus Christi College

Good Shepherd Sunday is one of my favourite and most encouraging weekends of the seminary year. This year-my sixth in the seminary-I travelled to St Macartan’s Parish (Mornington). I spoke at four Masses and, in considering the priesthood in relation to my personal vocation story, suggested to parishioners that the fundamental reason any man desires to pursue the priesthood is love for God and his people. Through this love he becomes the mediator of God’s love for His people and their love for Him. Hence, St John Vianney’s description of the priesthood as ‘the love of the heart of Christ’ has always resonated deeply in my heart.

 


 

 

Feast of Corpus Christi 2015
Father Nicholas Pearce
Assistant Vocations Director 
 
The Feast of Corpus Christi is a timely reminder for the whole Church about the centrality of the Eucharist to the Christian life but each year it is a time of particularly celebration for the seminarians and staff of our Regional Seminary as the Staff and Students of Corpus Christi College celebrate their Feast Day.

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For the Seminary Community this year the Feast of Corpus Christi included a weekend of activities including a Holy Hour in which the community prayed for the Ordinands who are preparing for their Ordination the Priesthood in June, visits to retired priests around the Diocese, and a Mass for Deceased Priests in the Priests Crypt at Melbourne General Cemetery.
 
Among the various activities one constant was that the seminarians participated in 40 hours of perpetual Adoration, keeping watch with the Lord in the 
Seminary Chapel from Friday night until Sunday Afternoon.  Seminarians took it in turns to remain in prayer with the Lord, throughout the day and into the dark and cold hours of the night.
 
The weekend culminated with Solemn Mass at which the Rector Fr Brendan Lane presided and Auxilary Bishop +Mark Edwards preached.  Over 500 friends and supporters of the Seminary filled the Seminary Church of the Sacred Heart to capacity for Mass and then joined the community as they 'took to the streets' processing the Blessed Sacrament down the busy restauran
t district of Lygon Street. 
 
As the Procession moved down Lygon Street, those who were finishing lunch in the local cafes and restaurants put their cutlery down and came out onto the street to watch as the 60 Seminarians, and Clergy in choir preceded the Blessed Sacrament leading the singing and reciting prayers,  As the Blessed Sacrament passed, the throng of laity praying in unison followed closely behind.  A sight unfamiliar to many, yet strangely and surprisingly one that demanded a silent reverence, and a sense of unexplained wonder and awe at what they had just seen.
 
In a recent meeting with Religious Superiors the Holy Father spoke about the need for The Church to "Wake up the World" which is the theme of the Year for Consecrated Life which the Church celebrates this year.  The Pope reminded those gathered that Priests and Religious must 
 
 "Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, acting, living! (Show) it’s possible to live differently in this world."
 
If this past weekend is anything to go by, we can be very proud and hopefully for the future.  With a seminary full of young men who are willing to go out, out from their homes, from their churches and from their comfort zones to show that it is possible to live differently in this world, we can look forward with courage to the great witness they will give as priests for our diocese in the years to come.
 
 
 

 

 

The news in vocations is anything but dark and dreary.
Father David Cartwright
Vocations Director
 
A lot has been going on in the Vocations Office for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The Vocations Director Fr David Cartwright writes about the various activities of the office over the past few months.

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As Melbourne enters into the depths of winter, the news in vocations is anything but dark and dreary.

Later this month we will rejoice at the first of the two ordination ceremonies for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. On Saturday June 27 we will welcome Deacons Francis Denton, John Paul Mount and Charles Balnaves as new priests. In September we will again rejoice at the ordination of more new minsters of the Church.

Of course, we know the initiative for a priestly vocation comes from the Lord. Behind every vocation is prayer. Perhaps it is the prayer of parents, family members,  teachers, religious, parishioners or those who are unknown. ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest’, Jesus reminds us. With this in mind, a new Prayer Campaign for vocations in Melbourne will be launched in August to coincide with National Vocations Awareness week. The Archbishop is asking all parishes and communities to pray each week a prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Parishes are asked to pray this prayer each week at Mass.

Largely in response to the call of Pope Francis for the Year for Consecrated Life, we seek to give thanks for those who serve the Lord, and to pray for more to join them. More information will be available in your parishes and at www.melbournepriest.com .

Conscious that prayer is key to the call and response of a vocation, the Good Shepherd network has been launched in a number of parishes. We distribute a prayer brochure with the photo and names of all the students studying for the priesthood in Melbourne, and ask parishes to pray for them. For each day of the week, there is a special vocations related intention. Parishes and prayer groups are grateful to be able to support our seminarians and vocations in this way.Fr Pearce has been busy visiting parishes and promoting this.

In March, Bishop Mark Edwards launched ‘Finding the Way’, a new resource of the Vocations Office for schools and youth groups. The response to this has been very positive and Fr Pearce has presented this to several groups of Religious Education Leaders from our secondary schools at their Network meetings. If any schools or youth groups are interested in this, they can contact the Vocations Office (9926 5733 or vocations@cam.org.au)

One of the events that our seminarians look forward to each year is Good Shepherd Sunday, where they visit parishes in Melbourne and speak about their vocation. In this issue, there are several testimonies from students about their experiences. The Vocations Office and the seminary are very grateful to the parishes and to the priests who graciously host the students and make them welcome.

Another welcome event each year is Enquiry Day at our seminary in Carlton. This year we welcomed fourteen men who visited for the afternoon in May. They heard testimonies from some seminarians and presentations from the staff. After a tour of the College, the Archbishop celebrated Evening Prayer and joined the visitors and the college community for a BBQ dinner.

The Archbishop is always supportive of vocations in Melbourne. In March, he launched the new website for priestly vocations in the Archdiocese. www.melbournepriest.com . The website has a lot of information for men enquiring about priesthood, as well as some very good interviews with Bishops and priests from Melbourne. The interviews give interesting and rewarding insights into the lives of priests with questions ranging from the call to priesthood to sports; recreation, and personal issues such as celibacy and family.

In April we farewelled Joan Clements after nine years of faithful service to Vocations ministry in Melbourne. We wish her and her husband Steve a very happy retirement. We welcome Sonia Starc to the Vocations Office as the new Office Manager and Personal Assistant. Together with Christian Diez, our Special Projects Officer, they offer fantastic support to the work of vocations in Melbourne.

Please pray for the work of the office, and for young people in your parishes and communities. Our prayer helps them to hear and respond to the call of the Lord.


 

 

Praying for Vocations.
Father Nicholas Pearce
Assistant Vocations Director 
 
The Call of Christ to be shepherds of his flock and to serve in his name which began with the commission of the first apostles has continued for over 2000 years, with men from every generation generously listening, discerning and ultimately laying down their own lives in service of their brothers and sisters.

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As we come to the end of Eastertide with the great celebrations of the Ascension and Pentecost, the Church remembers in her liturgy and prayer the passing of the mission to preach the Good News from Christ himself to the Apostles.

For over two thousand years, the successors of the Apostles, the Bishops, and the priests ordained to assist them, have under the guidance of the Holy Spirit continued to teach, govern and sanctify the people of God in the name of Christ, guiding and ministering to the Church as Alter Christus.

The Call of Christ to be shepherds of his flock and to serve in his name which began with the commission of the first apostles has continued for over 2000 years, with men from every generation generously listening, discerning and ultimately laying down their own lives in service of their brothers and sisters. 

The promise of the Lord that he will never leave us without shepherds is one that should give us great confidence and is a timely reminder of the mercy and love that he has for us. 

I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD. (Jer 23:4)

With confidence in this promise, and in the working of the Holy Spirit, we must not loose hope, but when faced with a world full of challenges, sin and noise, where it becomes harder and harder for young men in particular to hear the silent promptings of the Holy Spirit we must turn in filial trust to our Lord in prayer. 

 Like the breath of Jesus, breathed on the Apostles after his resurrection, The Holy Spirit often moves in gentle and silent ways, and can often be drowned out or simply not heard, due to the prevailing atmosphere in which we live.  With this in mind we must redouble our efforts, to pray as individuals, as parishes and as a whole church that the Spirit who continues to call, may be heard in the hearts of our young men, and that those young men to whom The Lord calls, may have hearts that are open to listen, hearts that are generous to respond, and hearts that are filled with courage to give their lives, like so many have done before.

And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)


 

 

Pioneer Chaplain of the Royal Australian Navy
He had a very lofty conception of the dignity of the priesthood.  His life never for one moment deflected from the pursuit of that grand ideal.  He was in truth the “Sacerdos magnus.”  He has left behind him the fragrance of an exemplary priestly life and a void in the hearts of the multitudes of friends who loved him.  May his soul rest in peace.

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Pioneer Chaplain of the Royal Australian Navy

The Archdiocese suffered a severe loss with a the death on Friday of Rev. Patrick Gibbons, parish priest of Camberwell.  The report of the obsequies, on Monday morning, will appear in next weeks issue.  Below is an appreciation of Fr Gibbons by one of his closest friends. ‘J.M.C” 

It is with sentiments of the deepest regret that we report the death of one of the most revered priests of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the pastor of Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell – Fr Patrick Joseph Gibbons.

These Latter years Fr Gibbons health was causing considerable anxiety to his relatives and many friends.  His indisposition however, did not incapacitate him in the discharge of his parish duties.  Indeed, quite recently it seemed that he had recovered something of his old vigour and was enjoying a new lease of life.  Only a few days before the latest attack he expressed himself as feeling particularly well.  It lends an added poignancy to the occasion that we was in high spirits over the arrival of his brother, Mr. Paul Gibbons, on a fleeting visit from America, when the final seizure came with startling suddenness.  At first every hope was entertained the he would live.  But as the days passed his medical adivsers realized that his strength was ebbing.  He died as he would have wished, among his dear friends at the Mercy Hospital.  Almost the last articulate sentence he uttered was an expression of gratitude to the Sisters for their devoted attention.  To His brothers, Fr John Gibbons and Mr Lawrence Gibbons (headmaster at Yarra Park State School), and his relatives we extend our very sincere condolences.

Fr Paddy Gibbons, as his fellow-priests love to speak of him, was a native of Ireland and was born in Claremorris, County Mayo, in 1882.  He came of a large family.  Three of its members embraced the religious life, one of them becoming a Sister of the Order of Mercy at San Francisco.  He received his primary education from Mercy Sisters at Claremorris, and later from Franciscan Brothers at Annaghdown, County Galway.  In pursuit of his secondary education he spent four years with the Fathers of the Holy Ghost at their renowned college at Rockwell, where his intellectual abilities were evidenced by his winning an exhibition each year.

In 1898, at an early age of 16, he entered the National Ecclesiastical College at Maynooth.  The vice-president of the college at that time was the present Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev. Dr Mannix. 

In his first year at Maynooth Fr. Gibbons carried off the coveted “solus” price for modern languages.  At the age of 18 he won his degree of Bachelor of Philosophy.

Owing to a sharp decline in health, his theological course was pursued with difficulty.  Indeed, it soon became imperative that the gifted student from the diocese of Galway should seek a less rigorous climate.  His theological studies were prematurely terminated and a  special dispensation having been obtained, reducing the age required for Holy Orders, we has ordained to the priesthood a the end of his third divinity year at age of 22.

Archbishop Carr intimating that he was prepared to receive his as a subject of his diocese, Fr. Gibbons arrived in Melbourne in 1904.  His first appointment as curate was to the parish of SS. Peter and Paul, South Melbourne.  From there he followed the odyssey of his early years in the ministry to Geelong, Meredith, Dandenong, Gisborne and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Wherever he had served the altar he left behind him a record of sterling priestly work and example.  We was a fine public speaker.  As a preacher he attained considerable eminence.  To this day enthusiastic reference may still be heard from members of the congregation who were privileged to hear his inspired discourse delivered in St Patrick’s Cathedral over 30 years ago on the Christian Priesthood,

After the formation of the Royal Australian Nacy, Fr Gibbons, in 1913, was appointed its first Catholic Chaplain.  Indeed he was the first Catholic Naval Chaplain to serve in a British unit since the reformation, so called.  The new chaplain entered into his duties with zest.  He remained attached to the fleet for seven years, his keen sense of duty binding him to serve the entire period on board ship.  His term of service covered the four momentous years of the First World War.  He went into action in the Battle of Jutland.  One recalls a breezy passage in his letters after the battle.  He declared that the roar of the guns as the British fleet engaged the enemy proved to be the best and most moving sermon his ratings had ever heard.

Household Word

During these years of service in the Navy the name of Fr. Paddy Gibbons became something of a household word in Catholic Australia.  Many years later it was a revelation to be with him in remote parts of the country and to note the universal esteem in which he was held.  Priests whom he had never met felt they had known him well because of the kindly interest with which they had followed the fortunes of the first Australian Catholic Naval Chaplain.  People enjoyed nothing better than to sit and listen as he chatted about the experiences of those days.  In his unassuming ways he could be a spell-binder on such occasions.  There did not seem to be any detail of the gear on these manoeuvres of a battleship with which he was not thoroughly conversant.  But he was never more entertaining that when describing his own personal manoeuvres to obtain permission of a crusty commander when the chaplain wanted to visit Catholic personnel of the sister ships of the unit.  The friendships he formed during the years of his official association with the Australian navy he preserved to the end.

Soon after his return to Melbourne, Fr. Gibbons was appointed to the charge of the newly-formed parish of St Joan of Arc Brighton.  He extended schools at Brighton and Bentleigh and built a new school at St Finbar’s.  He also the Lawlor Memorial Tower and additions to the school at Camberwell.  It was while he was at St Joan of Arc’s that the weekly Catholic Hour broadcast from station 3AW was intiatied.  Fr Gibbons was elected president of the controlling committee.  He filled the position with ample evidence of his gift of leadership.  He was indefatigable in the pursuit of speakers for the various sessions.  He set a high standard of quality for the talks and he was inflexible in maintaining it.  His own contributions over the air were among the best.  He was served by a zealous and competent committee.  But it is not too much to say that through his personal tact and initiative the Catholic Radio Hour each Sunday evening soon became a leading feature in the broadcasting programmes in Melbourne.  A graceful tribute to the success he had attained came when he was made parish priest at Our Lady of Victories.  In the letter of appointment, his Grace the Archbishop went on to say that he was delighted to have the opportunity of making the appointment in recognition of Fr Gibbons’ services “on sea, on land and on the air”.

As a host Fr. Paddy Gibbons had few equals.  He fulfilled abundantly the condition laid down by St Paul, that a priest should be “given to hospitality”.  Far and wide among the clergy his kindness was proverbial.  He was at his best in clerical company.  No one could mistake the genuineness of the reception that awaited him at his presbytery.  The newly-ordained priest felt almost embarrassed by the warmth of welcome to his board.  He had a genius for friendship.  He was looking forward with keen pleasure to the arrival of distinguished visitors for the centenary celebrations of the diocese to be held in Melbourne next year.  He hoped to have the privilege of entertaining the present primate of Ireland, Archbishop D’Alton of Armagh, thereby renewing a friendly association of long standing since the day when his Grace and Paddy Gibbons presented themselves at the primary school for their first day at school together.

One of his leading characteristics was his care for the sick.  The Sisters of our hospitals have stated that they were glad to see him come as his visit had such a tonic effect on the patients.  He was a great hearted man.

Father Paddy Gibbons is dead and the Catholic Church in Melbourne is lonelier and the poorer for his loss.  Indeed the pangs of regret at his passing will be felt far outside the diocese to which he rendered such signal service.  He had a very lofty conception of the dignity of the priesthood.  His life never for one moment deflected from the pursuit of that grand ideal.  He was in truth the “Sacerdos magnus.”  He has left behind him the fragrance of an exemplary priestly life and a void in the hearts of the multitudes of friends who loved him.  May his soul rest in peace.

“J.M.C”

 

 Originally Published in:

The Advocate: December 17, 1947

 © MDHC Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Image Courtesy of ©Australian War Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message from Pope Francis for the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Pope Francis
 
26 April 2015 - Fourth Sunday of Easter
 
Theme: Exodus, a fundamental experience of vocation
 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter offers us the figure of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep: he calls them, he feeds them and he guides them. For over fifty years the universal Church has celebrated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this way she reminds us of our need to pray, as Jesus himself told his disciples, so that “the Lord of the harvest may send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk 10:2). Jesus command came in the context of his sending out missionaries. He called not only the twelve Apostles, but another seventy-two disciples whom he then sent out, two by two, for the mission (cf. Lk 10:1-6). Since the Church “is by her very nature missionary” (Ad Gentes, 2), the Christian vocation is necessarily born of the experience of mission. Hearing and following the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd, means letting ourselves be attracted and guided by him, in consecration to him; it means allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us into this missionary dynamism, awakening within us the desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God.


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To offer one’s life in mission is possible only if we are able to leave ourselves behind. On this 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like reflect on that particular “exodus” which is the heart of vocation, or better yet, of our response to the vocation God gives us. When we hear the word “exodus”, we immediately think of the origins of the amazing love story between God and his people, a history which passes through the dramatic period of slavery in Egypt, the calling of Moses, the experience of liberation and the journey toward the Promised Land. The Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, which recounts these events is a parable of the entire history of salvation, but also of the inner workings of Christian faith. Passing from the slavery of the old Adam to new life in Christ is a event of redemption which takes place through faith (Eph 4:22-24). This passover is a genuine “exodus”; it is the journey of each Christian soul and the entire Church, the decisive turning of our lives towards the Father.

At the root of every Christian vocation we find this basic movement, which is part of the experience of faith. Belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to centre our life in Jesus Christ. It means leaving, like Abraham, our native place and going forward with trust, knowing that God will show us the way to a new land. This “going forward” is not to be viewed as a sign of contempt for one’s life, one’s feelings, one’s own humanity. On the contrary, those who set out to follow Christ find life in abundance by putting themselves completely at the service of God and his kingdom. Jesus says: “Everyone who has left home or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). All of this is profoundly rooted in love. The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, “decentring” us and triggering “an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God” (Deus Caritas Est, 6).

The exodus experience is paradigmatic of the Christian life, particularly in the case of those who have embraced a vocation of special dedication to the Gospel. This calls for a constantly renewed attitude of conversion and transformation, an incessant moving forward, a passage from death to life like that celebrated in every liturgy, an experience of passover. From the call of Abraham to that of Moses, from Israel’s pilgrim journey through the desert to the conversion preached by the prophets, up to the missionary journey of Jesus which culminates in his death and resurrection, vocation is always a work of God. He leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters. Responding to God’s call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.

This exodus process does not regard individuals alone, but the missionary and evangelizing activity of the whole Church. The Church is faithful to her Master to the extent that she is a Church which “goes forth”, a Church which is less concerned about herself, her structures and successes, and more about her ability to go out and meet God’s children wherever they are, to feel compassion (com-passio) for their hurt and pain. God goes forth from himself in a Trinitarian dynamic of love: he hears the cry of his people and he intervenes to set them free (Ex 3:7). The Church is called to follow this way of being and acting. She is meant to be a Church which evangelizes, goes out to encounter humanity, proclaims the liberating word of the Gospel, heals people’s spiritual and physical wounds with the grace of God, and offers relief to the poor and the suffering.

Dear brothers and sisters, this liberating exodus towards Christ and our brothers and sisters also represents the way for us to fully understand our common humanity and to foster the historical development of individuals and societies. To hear and answer the Lord’s call is not a private and completely personal matter fraught with momentary emotion. Rather, it is a specific, real and total commitment which embraces the whole of our existence and sets it at the service of the growth of God’s Kingdom on earth. The Christian vocation, rooted in the contemplation of the Father’s heart, thus inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest. A disciple of Jesus has a heart open to his unlimited horizons, and friendship with the Lord never means flight from this life or from the world. On the contrary, it involves a profound interplay between communion and mission (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 23).

This exodus towards God and others fills our lives with joy and meaning. I wish to state this clearly to the young, whose youth and openness to the future makes them open-hearted and generous. At times uncertainty, worries about the future and the problems they daily encounter can risk paralyzing their youthful enthusiasm and shattering their dreams, to the point where they can think that it is not worth the effort to get involved, that the God of the Christian faith is somehow a limit on their freedom. Dear young friends, never be afraid to go out from yourselves and begin the journey! The Gospel is the message which brings freedom to our lives; it transforms them and makes them all the more beautiful. How wonderful it is to be surprised by God’s call, to embrace his word, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in adoration of the divine mystery and in generous service to our neighbours! Your life will become richer and more joyful each day!

The Virgin Mary, model of every vocation, did not fear to utter her “fiat” in response to the Lord’s call. She is at our side and she guides us. With the generous courage born of faith, Mary sang of the joy of leaving herself behind and entrusting to God the plans she had for her life. Let us turn to her, so that we may be completely open to what God has planned for each one of us, so that we can grow in the desire to go out with tender concern towards others (cf. Lk 1:39). May the Virgin Mary protect and intercede for us all.

From the Vatican, 29 March 2015 
Palm Sunday

Francis


 

 

Melbourne priest first naval chaplain
John Rhynehart
Director of Faith and Religious Education at St John's Regional College, Dandenong 
 
Many of us have visited the ‘green fields of France’ to remember the fallen, whether they bore our name or were completely unknown to us. Perhaps we have been privileged enough to be on the shores of Anzac Cove at dawn on a chilly 25 April and stood in silent remembrance.

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The vast majority of us will have stood before a cenotaph, memorial or shrine and contemplated the fallen of World War I and prayed a silent prayer for them and for those who returned; for their wellbeing and, for some, to be freed of the tortures of war. Regardless of where we have been and how we have remembered, we would have been confronted with the epitaph: ‘Greater love has no man than this: to lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).
 
On this centenary of Anzac Day, we remember the men who served as chaplains during World War I (and subsequently all those who continued to serve in the many conflicts and peacekeeping activities in the world since that time) and honour them, their service, their dedication and their ministry.
 
Among the fallen, the wounded, the shell-shocked, the terrified and the brave, they served as ‘Good Shepherds’— like Jesus the Good Shepherd, who stands for us all as a model of service, sacrifice and self-giving love. The chaplains who ministered to the soldiers were equally willing to ‘lay down their lives’ in the hope that the soul as much as the body would remain safe, secure and whole.
 
Fr Patrick Gibbons was one such priest. In 1913 he was appointed Catholic chaplain to the newly formed Royal Australian Navy. The Advocate wrote of him:
Indeed he was the first [Catholic chaplain] to serve in a British unit since the Reformation … His term of service covered the four momentous years of the First World War. He went into action in the battle of Jutland. One recalls a breezy passage in his letters after the battle. He declared that the roar of the guns as the British Fleet engaged the enemy proved to be the best and most moving sermon his ratings had ever heard. (17 December 1947)

In one description, Fr Gibbons’ rapport, camaraderie and ‘presence’ as chaplain among the ship’s crew ‘regardless of rank or religion’ was noted as one of his most endearing qualities. In essence, he personified the call to be a Good Shepherd, administering the sacraments and the love of Jesus to his flock amid some of the most harrowing experiences that war conjures.
 
In 1921, after seven years as chaplain to the RAN, Fr Gibbons was appointed parish priest of Brighton. Fittingly, in later years, he was appointed parish priest of Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell, which in time would be named a basilica by Pope St John Paul II. The patron and the new status of this parish church both lend tribute to the sacrificial love demonstrated by those who died in war.
 
On his death in 1947 these simple yet poignant words were written:
Fr Paddy Gibbons is dead and the Catholic Church in Melbourne is the lonelier and the poorer for his loss. Indeed the pangs of regret at his passing will be felt far outside the diocese to which he rendered such signal service …
He has left behind him the fragrance of an exemplary priestly life and a void in the hearts of the multitude of friends who love him.

(The Advocate, 17 December 1947)
 
Click here for more information on Fr Gibbons, and to find resources for your school or parish for Good Shepherd Sunday 26 April.

 

 

St Joseph, Model for Priests.

Fr Nicholas Pearce

Assistant Vocations Director 

In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was visiting Africa on the Feast of St Joseph.  On the vigil of the feast he met and prayed Vespers with Priests, Religious and Seminarians.

In reflecting on Saint Joseph he reminded those gathered that although Joseph was “not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, he lives his fatherhood fully and completely.”  Through a life of sacrifice, poverty, and service, Benedict XVI pointed out that St Joseph lived a life of true fatherhood as a model for all priests and those aspiring to be priests, a life of service of Christ, the Son of God.   

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 Fr Nicholas Pearce

Assistant Vocations Director 
 
In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was visiting Africa on the Feast of St Joseph.  On the vigil of the feast he met and prayed Vespers with Priests, Religious and Seminarians.

In reflecting on Saint Joseph he reminded those gathered that although Joseph was “not the biological father of Jesus, whose Father is God alone, he lives his fatherhood fully and completely.”  Through a life of sacrifice, poverty, and service, Benedict XVI pointed out that St Joseph lived a life of true fatherhood as a model for all priests and those aspiring to be priests, a life of service of Christ, the Son of God.  

 
This Fatherhood, this intimate relationship with Christ, is to be at the heart of the priest’s life.  It must be Christ who takes centre stage, and the priest is only a “humble instrument pointing to Christ, who offers himself as the sacrifice of salvation of the world”. 

This is particularly true in the celebration of the Eucharist, which he reminded those present is to be “truly the centre of your priestly lives” In a special way then the priest, who is striving to be a humble servant like St Joseph, shares in the mission of Christ himself, as Joseph did, in witnessing to his word and proclaiming it to the world.

Turning to the Second Vatican Council the Holy Father said

“As their fathers in Christ, priests should care for the faithful whom they have spiritually begotten by Baptism and instruction” (Lumen Gentium No. 28)

Just as God called Joseph to watch over Mary and the Child Jesus, The Lord calls his priests to watch over those entrusted to his care, faithfully remaining true to the promises they made on the day of their ordination

Benedict XVI then addressed those preparing for priesthood, and those discerning a priestly Vocation:

 “To the young men who are preparing to join you, and to those still discerning a priestly vocation, I hold out once more the joy that comes from giving oneself completely to the service of God and the Church. Be courageous, then, and generously say "yes" to Christ!”

Read the Full Text Here.

 

 


 

 

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