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armaghpriest
Who Will Fill These Shoes?
by armaghpriest.com on February 25th, 2022

If we went into a school classroom in the Archdiocese of Armagh and asked the question, “Who would like to fill the boots of their county football captain?” almost every lad in the room would put up their hand.

If we went into the same classroom and asked, “Who would like to fill the boots of their parish priest?” we would unlikely get the same number of hands.  If every county needs a captain to lead them, even more so every parish needs a good, holy priest to lead them in faith.

People know very simply why a football team needs a captain; someone of exceptional standard, expectations and who makes the others in the team strive to be better.  People don’t often reflect on why we need our priest, but who can fill his shoes?

Who else on this earth can give us the body and blood of Christ?  Who else can take away all our sins through Confession?  Who else can anoint us as we exit this earth?  We are all called to be saints, and there are those among us called to be priests and saints.  Just like we need visible leaders in sport, we need visible, holy men who have the courage to become priests.  

God, when He spoke to St Catherine of Sienna said there were the same number of boys being born with the seed of faith to become priests but this seed was not being watered or nourished.  Ask yourself as a parishioner, teacher, parent or grandparent, “when was the last time I mentioned priesthood as a vocation to a young lad or man?” “When did I last pray for vocations or speak of it with my children or pupils?”

Vocations are made in the family.  Just like football players are introduced to the game and took to training to develop, so too our future priests need to be introduced to the faith, taken to the training i.e. Holy Mass, learn the rules (the teachings of our faith) and be encouraged to participate.  Can you imagine any more rewarding vocation in life than to give people Jesus, to lead them to Jesus and to help them and yourself strive to be saints in Heaven?  

Having worked alongside many priests across Ireland, I see the role of a priest as much more than offering Sunday mass.  It is daily giving people the body and blood of Christ.  It is weekly cleaning the souls of your parishioners through Confession.  It is being with people as they die and preparing their soul to meet God to ensure heaven is their destination.  It is sharing in the highest highs of life, like baptising a child into the family of God or joining man and woman in Holy Matrimony; and the lowest of lows when people are grieving, sick or lost in this world.  It is the daily challenge of being courageous enough to let people know of the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit as God’s gift to us.  Being a priest is the greatest privilege God can bestow on any man on this earth, so the question remains, “Who will fill these shoes?” Are you courageous enough to?  

St John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, pray for us.

Bosco McShane



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