Pastoral Letter, 4th Sunday of Easter
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On 5th January this year, Pope Francis said, in an address to the Bishops of Italy:
“The doors [of vocation] are opened through prayer, through good will, through risk,” he said. “Jesus told us that the first way to have vocations is prayer, but not all are convinced of this… Pray with the heart, with your life, with everything.”
Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church throughout the world is called to reflect on the theme of Vocations to Priesthood and the three themes given to us by the Holy Father – prayer, good will, risk – provide an ideal path for our reflection.
As we look to the future of our Diocese and the ways in which the Mission given to us by Christ will be continued, the Eucharist will always be the centre of our lives. The encounter that we have with the person of Jesus, the Word who is Life, is the pinnacle of our worship and the source of our activity in His Name. While the Diocese is blessed with many wonderful priests, I call on each and every person in this Diocese to join with me in prayer for vocations – for we need priests. Pope Francis’ insistent words – “pray with the heart, with your life, with everything” – must find a home in us in every aspect of our lives, and our prayer for vocations to the priesthood is no exception.
To assist us in this work, a new Vocations Prayer Card has been produced and is available in every parish today and will be available in our schools. I ask you to join with me in praying this prayer each and every day.
The praying of the Rosary is a part of many people’s lives of prayer. I invite parishes to form groups of people who will commit to praying the Rosary for Vocations to Priesthood.
The practice of Eucharistic Adoration is an aspect of parish life in many parts of the Diocese. Times of Adoration provide excellent opportunities for prayer for Priestly Vocations and I ask every parish to hold a Holy Hour each month for this intention. Materials to assist in this are available on the National Vocations Website.
The Holy Father speaks of good will and risk. For the one whom God calls to Priesthood, both of these are necessary. Good will leads to an openness of mind and heart that enable us to listen to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. The call to Priesthood, more often than not, comes in quiet ways: the example of a priest; the example of parents and family members as they persevere in Faith; a thought about service to the Church; a renewed experience of God’s presence when on retreat or at a day of prayer and celebration; a reawakening of awareness of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These are some examples, but good will is a prerequisite if we are to open our minds and hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
There is also the element of risk – for the decision to reflect further on Priestly Vocation and to offer oneself for Formation and Ordination is a step into life-long commitment and service; of “following Christ the Head and Shepherd, not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls.”
To those of you who sense these stirrings of the Holy Spirit, calling you to service of Christ and his Church, I say this: be open to the call, pray, take the risk. Be a part of the Mission of this Diocese as a Priest. You are needed and valued by the whole of our Diocesan Family and can be assured of the prayers and support of all.
With every Blessing,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop of Arundel & Brighton
 POPE FRANCIS, Address to Italian Bishops’ Conference, 5th January 2017.
 ROMAN MISSAL, Renewal of Priestly Promises at the Chrism Mass.