I have been keeping an eye on the Catholic media of late, as you will note, regarding content on the upcoming 'Year of Vocation'. The latest edition of the Irish Catholic (edition of March 6, 2008) carries two full pages on vocations. There are two articles - one by Fr. Paddy Rushe, the National Director of Vocations and the second by Fr. Eamon Bourke, the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Dublin. Both articles are informational and designed to heighten awareness of vocations.
The letters page of the Irish Catholic carries four letters on vocations - but one caught my eye. It is written by Fr. Gerry McCloskey, a parish priest based in Belfast and I would like to quote the latter half of the letter: "In a recent document from the Congregation for the Clergy......Pope Benedict is quoted in a speech to priests and deacons in Freising, Germany (September 14, 2006) reminding us of the Lord's only requirement to bring about vocations: 'Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send out labourers. He pleads with his listeners - Please do this! Rouse labourers! Enkindle in them enthusiasm and joy for the Gospel!' This document goes on to encourage each diocese to set up centres of perpetual Eucharistic adoration with the specific intentions of prayer for vocations and the sanctification of priests. It is true that many priests in Ireland have lost heart and see the situation regarding vocations as pretty hopeless. That's why we need such centres of prayer. Finally, priests beget priests! If we're serious about vocations, then we priests need to ask ourselves the question: are we inspiring role-models - enough to attract young men to follow suit?"
That last question as to whether we (priests and religious) are inspiring role models is very important. I can't answer that question for all priests and religious - but to those who ask the question seriously and honestly of themselves will surely understand the gravity of what Fr. Gerry is asking. I'm glad he puts the question before us.