Father Stephen Langridge, chairman of the vocations directors of England and Wales, saw the number of men entering English seminaries to become Catholic priests rise to its highest level in a decade. According to Langridge, 56 men began their journey to priesthood this year. "The number of people responding to the call of Christ to be priests and religious has been rising slowly but surely, and may rise further as people respond to the visit of Pope Benedict."
At their annual conference held recently at Oscott seminary in Birmingham, the vocation directors discussed the approaches to vocations work that have contributed to this increase. Many dioceses and religious orders now run discernment groups for young men and women, where all vocations are discussed. Such groups encourage lay, religious, and priestly vocations.
Father Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office of Vocation, said: “When everybody in the church takes seriously [Blessed John Henry] Newman's insight that 'God has created me to do him some definite service,' then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life."
Vocations directors also discussed new ways to promote a culture of vocation. Some 300 young people attended the "Invocation" festival held in Birmingham in July 2010 for Catholics aged 16-35 who are discerning their vocation. This event was so popular that it is being held again on the weekend of June 17-19, 2011.
Schools are now being provided with high-quality online materials, and youth ministers are developing new approaches to bringing the gospel to life for the young. Attending events such as World Youth Day is an important experience that opens the eyes of many people to the richness of life in church service, and plans for English and Welsh participation in such convocations have been developed.
These British vocation leaders recommend the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops video Fishers of Men (also available with lots of other resources on the a vocation to be priest? website):
Part 1 . . .
. . . and Part 2: