I am very grateful to St. Joseph's Young Priest's Society for sending me the current edition (Summer 2008) of their newsletter 'The Sheaf'. This issue is almost completely devoted to the Year of Vocation containing articles about an address on vocation by Bishop Donal McKeown(chairman of the Bishop's Commission on Vocations) to a regional congress of the society in Dublin, another article on an address by Fr. Muredach Tuffy, the Director of the Newman Institute in Ballina, Co. Mayo to members of St. Joseph's Young Priests Society on vocations to priesthood and consecrated life. The issue also carries the remarks of Dr. Eugene Duffy (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick) on the theme of vocations to a large gathering of the society in Tralee in April 2008. Finally, 'The Sheaf' gives part of the text of Pope Benedict's address concerning vocations at St. Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers, New York during his recent visit there. All are excellent articles and I'd like to highlight some of the texts:
Bishop McKeown on the vocation of priesthood:
Priesthood - along with all the other vocations in the Church - has to be proclaimed as a call to service. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians about the many gifts of God's Spirit, was keen to insist that all the gifts were necessary. There was no room for pride about one role being more important than the other. Pope Paul VI said we needed nit just teachers but witnesses - and that teachers would be listened to because they were witnesses. In other words, we need to invite men to listen for God's call to priesthood, not merely to defend the church or to recreate the past but to proclaim the Gospel by word and sacrament and to build communities where the spirit of service for the poor and the marginalised is central.
Fr. Muredach Tuffy on the important role of grandparents:
I really feel there is a special apostolate available to us today, particularly those who have grandchildren or grandnieces or nephews. The world is getting busier and busier; parents are getting more and more stretched and in an effort to make sure children have all the opportunities and things they think they need in life, the first thing to suffer is the passing on of the faith. I believe we are all in a very influential position in our families to pass on the secret of hope, joy and consolation to our younger generation.
Dr. Eugene Duffy on the 'questioning generation':
Amidst the prosperity that has been unleashed there is a profound questioning afoot. Many of our very bright and successful young executives are asking questions about the meaning of life and what they have achieved. They are asking questions about how they can best spend the rest of their lives; how they can begin to make a difference, so that the lives of others may be enhanced and enabled to flourish. We need people who can meet them, who can talk to them in a way that can help them to find ways of living their lives so that they are enriched and in turn others enriched by them. For me that is where vocations directors need to turn.
Pope Benedict on the witness of religious:
Religious sisters, brothers and priests contribute greatly to the mission of the Church. Their prophetic witness is marked by a profound conviction of the primacy with which the Gospel shapes Christian life and transforms society. Today, I wish to draw your attention to the positive spiritual renewal which congregations are undertaking in relation to their charism. The word charism means a gift freely and graciously given. Charisms are bestowed by the Holy Spirit, who inspires founders and foundresses, and shapes congregations with a subsequent spiritual heritage. The wondrous array of charisms proper to each religious institute is an extraordinary spiritual treasury.