It is very heartening to read this week's new look Irish Catholic newspaper. The newly ordained Bishop of Ossory, Seamus Freeman - a member of the Pallotine Order, gives an interview and speaks about the 'vocation crisis' in this way: 'There is a lack of awareness of how grave this situation is. People know there are no vocations, but no one is inclined to promote vocations, it's not seen as a priority. People look for other solutions, the only solution to the crisis of vocations is to promote vocations and recruit more young men to join the priesthood. We have to make people in the parishes aware of the real urgency of no vocations. If it's not said people will not know it's an urgency, it has to be very well known that this is the number one problem.' Bishop Freeman is making vocations promotion a priority. In my forty odd years, I have not heard any other bishop or religious superior say in a public way that the promotion of vocations was a priority. Hopefully now, through the courage and enthusiasm of the new bishop, others will follow.
Commenting on Bishop Freeman's interview in the same paper, correspondent Andrew O' Connell, who is the communications officer for the Presentation Brothers in Ireland welcomes this news and adds, quite rightly, that '.........the kind of leadership we now need is one which will take issues by the scruff of the neck.' Andrew points to the fact that this is back breaking work but that it is work that must simply be done lest we ignore the words of the late Pope John Paul II: 'Let no one, on account of our negligence, lose the beautiful gift of their vocation.'
And a final piece in this week's paper is a letter from a writer extolling the virtues of Saint Joseph's Young Priest Society - an organisation founded in 1895. It is an organisation of lay people devoted to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life as well as the promotion of the laity. I know from experience the wonderful work they do. It would be great to see this organisation have a presence on the internet and spread their message more widely.
All in all, it was great to see these articles and letter about vocations. A lot of common sense. I would like to think it marks a new trend in our thinking about vocations promotion.