This Sunday 22 April we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. To mark this ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’, RTÉ One will broadcast a special Mass from their Donnybrook studios at 11.00am celebrated by Bishop Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns and supported by the choir of the National Centre for Liturgy, Maynooth.
Each year on Vocations Sunday, the Church throughout the world prays for vocations. Catholics are asked to make a special effort to ask the Lord for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
In his letter for Vocations Sunday 2018 Pope Francis reflected on when Jesus returned after his time of prayer and struggle in the desert, He did three things before he began his mission. He listened to the word, He discerned the content of the mission entrusted to Him by the Father and proclaimed that He came to accomplish it today (Luke 4:16-21). This model – listening, discerning and praying – can be followed by all of us as we each try to live out our vocation.
The Holy Father said 2018 is a special year for vocations because the Synod of Bishops will reflect on ‘the relationship between young people, faith, and vocation’ at its two-yearly gathering in October.
Welcoming the 2018 message for vocations of Pope Francis, the chair of the Council for Vocations of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, said: ‘The Lord is still calling men to the ordained priesthood. What is needed are men of faith and generosity who will answer that call to sanctify God’s people who in turn have the mission of sanctifying themselves and the world in which they live. Vocations Sunday, or Good Shepherd Sunday, is a day on which we pray for and encourage the faith and generosity needed to respond to God’s initiative’.
Father Willie Purcell, National Coordinator for Diocesan Vocations in Ireland, added: ‘Vocations Sunday is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and to encourage those who are discerning a vocation to say ‘yes’ to God’s call. As we prepare to celebrate the World Meeting of Families in August, Vocations Sunday encourages parents to pray with their children for vocations, to talk to their children about vocations and to encourage their sons and daughters to consider vocations. Vocations Sunday is also a reminder to pray for priests and religious in our dioceses and to support them in their ministries by getting involved in parish activities and by words of encouragement.’
A special online feature for Vocations Sunday is available on www.catholicbishops.ie. It includes the full message of Pope Francis for World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2018, an article ‘Vocation is today; the Christian mission is now’ by Father Willie Purcell, and suggested ‘Prayer of the Faithful’ texts for use during the Mass.