“How many are joining the seminary next year?” is the usual question asked of me since being appointed by Bishop Vincent as Director of Priestly Vocations at the start of 2017. It may seem that my role, with the members of the Diocesan Vocations Committee, is simply recruitment for Holy Spirit Seminary, Harris Park. However, our main role is to increase awareness throughout the Diocese of Parramatta that God calls all people to Holiness. As Pope Francis said: “to be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone”. We made this awareness of the universal call to holiness the main focus of our ministry.
Holy Hour for Vocations occurs every 4th Friday of the month at 6:30pm. This is a time of prayer for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament. It is a conscious act of asking our Good Shepherd to send more labourers in His vineyard. The location alternates between the Cathedral, various parishes and shrines. We hope this will encourage more people to pray for vocations — married life, single life, consecrated life and priesthood.
School Visitations and vocations talks with Year 10 students are great opportunities for committee members to explain our different vocations — consecrated life, as religious priests and sisters, and diocesan priesthood. They are also helpful forums for students to ask questions and voice any concerns.
We hope these moments provide awareness of God’s call for them and encouragement to answer God’s call. One of the things we do when visiting schools is play basketball with the students. Holy Spirit Seminary has a basketball team of seminarians and priests, giving us an opportunity to meet students in a different context and let them realise their priests can still have fun through sports.
Come and See Day at Holy Spirit Seminary, Harris Park on 20 August 2017 was a whole-day event, inspired by Our Lord’s invitation to the two disciples of John the Baptist to “Come and see”, found in the Gospel of John. This provided single men open to a priestly vocation with the opportunity to experience seminary life, beginning with Holy Mass at St Oliver’s Parish church, followed by talks, a tour, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and dinner with Bishop Vincent. It was a successful day where visitors had a chance to meet our seminarians and learn more about the seminary.
We are hoping to continue all the different events that we have through 2018. I personally hope to visit different parishes to continually promote Vocations Awareness and request the Catholic faithful join in prayers for more young men and women to answer God’s call to their specific vocations.
I wish to encourage our young people to courageously and joyfully say YES to God’s will.
Have a joyful Christmas and blessed New Year to all of you!
By Fr John Paul Escarlan, Director of Priestly Vocations – Diocese of Parramatta
This article first appeared in the December 2017 print edition of Catholic Outlook.
At the request of Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Catholic Outlook was printed in December 2017 to connect the Diocese and showcase the good works across the Diocese’s many agencies and ministries.