As chair of the Council for Vocations of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan today said, “during this, the holiest week of the Church year, I wish to express my admiration, on behalf of the Council for Vocations, for what priests do and have done, particularly over the past two years.  Priests have formed part of the frontline who have cared for the sick, the bereaved, and the lonely, as well as carrying on numerous other duties.  Now, while for many in this part of the world life is returning to normal in the aftermath of the pandemic, the work of the priest continues, in season and out of season.  Every day in Ukraine we see that priests are staying with their people in the dreadful conditions brought by war in that country.”

Bishop Cullinan continued, “In spite of all that is going on and has gone on, priests have given inspirational witness.  We pray that this witness will inspire young men to follow Jesus Christ in this particular vocation and that in caring for the spiritual lives of others – as Pope Francis himself recounted from his own personal experience in the following story – that it is the priest himself who experiences the healing love of Christ who loves to the end.  During his Chrism Mass homily last year Pope Francis told us:

‘Once, in a very dark moment in my life, I asked the Lord for the grace to free me from a difficult and complex situation…a dark moment.  I had to preach the Spiritual Exercises to some women religious, and on the last day, as was customary in those days, they all went to Confession.  One elderly sister came; she had a clear gaze, eyes full of light — a woman of God.  At the end of the Confession, I felt the urge to ask her a favour, so I said to her, ‘Sister, as your penance, pray for me because I need a particular grace’… If you ask the Lord for it, surely he will give it to me.’ She paused for a moment and seemed to be praying, then looked at me and told me, ‘The Lord will certainly give you that grace, but make no mistake about it: He will give it to you in His own divine way’.  This did me much good, hearing that the Lord always gives us what we ask for, but that He does so in His divine way.  That way involves the Cross, not for masochism, but for love, love to the very end.’”

ENDS