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by on February 10th, 2022

On Tuesday 1st March @ 8pm there will be an opportunity for young men to join in on a Zoom to find out more about priesthood and to hear directly from two young men who are currently studying for the priesthood in our National Seminary in Maynooth.

The event is being run by the National Vocations Office. Further information and registration details can be obtained by emailing alternatively by visiting

by on January 12th, 2022

Weekend of Prayer for Vocations to Priesthood
25-27th March 2022

A special weekend of Prayer for Vocations to Priesthood will take place in the Archdiocese of Armagh on the weekend of Friday 25 – Sunday 27 March. As we celebrate Mary saying “Yes” to be the Mother of God on the Feast of the Annunciation, we pray that more men will say “Yes” and give of their lives for service as priests in our diocese.

Prayer for Vocations
O Jesus, send labourers into your fields, which are awaiting holy apostles, saintly priests, heroic missionaries and dedicated sisters and brothers. Enkindle in the hearts of men and women the spark of a vocation. Grant that Christian families may desire to give your Church, helpers in the work of tomorrow. Amen.

by on January 4th, 2022

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
to the Priesthood & Religious Life
January 2022 (Year C)

January 2nd: Second Sunday of Christmas
That young people will discover and respond enthusiastically to the Lord’s desire for them whether it be to the vocation of single, married, ordained or consecrated life.…

January 6th: The Epiphany of the Lord
That, just as the Magi were inspired by the Holy Spirit, young men and women will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of the Lord as priests, deacons and consecrated religious…

January 9th: The Baptism of the Lord
That, like John the Baptist, all those called by the Lord to serve his church will accept His invitation…
January 16th: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all those especially chosen by Christ for the unique paths of holiness as priests, deacons or in the consecrated life, will heed our Blessed Mother’s counsel to do whatever He tells them in loving obedience…

January 23rd: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all men and women called by Jesus to teach the Gospel as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that the joy of the Lord will remain their strength during their discernment, formation and mission…

January 30th: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For those called to service for the Lord as priests, sisters and brothers, that they will be encouraged to follow the Lord and faithful to His choice of them…

by on December 2nd, 2021

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
 to the Priesthood & Religious Life
December 2021 (Year C)

December 5th: Second Sunday of Advent
That the Lord, who is beginning the good work of choosing from among us men and women to follow Him as priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, will bring it to completion through our prayers and sacrifices…

December 8th: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
That, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, many will be called to serve in the priesthood and religious life…

December 12th: Third Sunday of Advent
For men and women called by the Lord to be messengers of salvation as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life, that Christ’s peace will guard their hearts and minds as they proclaim the good news of salvation…

December 19th: Fourth Sunday of Advent
That the faithful response, “Behold, I come to do your will, O Lord,” will be voiced by each person discerning a call to serve Christ as a priest, deacon, sister or brother…

December 25th: The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
That like Mary who pondered the mystery of Jesus’ birth, Catholic families will pray for and treasure vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life among their children…

December 26th: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
For all Catholic families, that they will esteem the grace of each child’s vocation and prayerfully encourage their children to consider being a priest, religious sister or brother…

by on November 7th, 2021

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
 to the Priesthood & Religious Life
November 2021 (Year B)

November 7th: Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
That those being called to serve the Lord and His people as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life will be blessed with holy zeal…

November 14th: Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

That the Church will be continuously blessed with good and faithful servants following Christ as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…

November 21st: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
For a deepening understanding among those discerning their vocation that the One who calls them is Jesus Christ the King…

November 28th: First Sunday of Advent (Year C)
That all those now discerning their vocations will be alert and responsive to the invitation of Christ…

by on November 7th, 2021

by on September 28th, 2021

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
 to the Priesthood & Religious Life 
October 2021 (Year B)

October 3rd: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

That men and women will be open to the voice of the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother to help them recognize and answer His call to serve Him as a priest, deacon or in the consecrated life…
October 10th: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That from the many called to holiness in Christ, those chosen to follow Him in the priesthood and consecrated life will respond with humble readiness …
October 17th: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For a growth in reverence and acceptance for the gift and mystery of a vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life …

October 24th: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That men and women will be encouraged to love God and their neighbour and follow Him generously when chosen to serve others as a priest, deacon or in the consecrated religious life …

October 31st: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
For a readiness to give to God what is God’s in response to His call to the priesthood or consecrated religious life…

by on September 13th, 2021

Praying the Greatest Prayer: The Holy Mass

How the Church describes the priest’s role concerning the Last Supper ‘command’ and the celebration of the Eucharist
(Fr. Gerald Dennis Gill, published at

Catholics often say that the Mass is the greatest prayer that we can offer. This is true for many reasons, and especially so because it is Christ’s prayer, Christ’s saving sacrifice offered to the heavenly Father for his glory and for our salvation. At every Mass, Christ unites us to himself in the offering of this prayer, of this sacrifice. For the priest, though, his union with this offering is even more profound, more particular, more personal.

The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy summarizes the traditional faith of the Church about the Eucharist.

“At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 47; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1323).

At this same Last Supper, with the institution of the Eucharist, the Lord turned to the gathered apostles and said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (cf. Lk 22:14-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26). Thus Jesus commands his apostles, his priests, to celebrate the Eucharist until his return (cf. CCC, No. 1337). This same command of the Lord to his apostles directs them uniquely to repeat his words and actions from the supper “to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 47). In this way, the priest, as he keeps the command of the Lord in every age, on behalf of all the members of the Church, is intimately united with the very event of the Lord’s Sacrifice, the memorial of [Jesus’] death and resurrection.

One way to see and to encourage priests to have a new regard for praying the greatest prayer, the holy Mass, is to look at how the Church describes their role concerning the Last Supper command and the celebration of the Eucharist. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal succinctly identifies this role.

“A Priest, also, who possesses within the Church the sacred power of Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ, presides by this fact over the faithful people gathered here and now, presides over its prayer, proclaims to it the message of salvation, associates the people with himself in the offering of sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Spirit to God the Father, and gives his brothers and sisters the Bread of eternal life and partakes of it with them. Therefore, when he celebrates the Eucharist, he must serve God and the people with dignity and humility, and by his bearing and by the way he pronounces the divine words he must convey to the faithful the living presence of Christ” (GIRM, No. 93).

This theologically and liturgically rich paragraph from the front matter of the Roman Missal provides four points for consideration for the priest to deepen his praying of the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist, the greatest prayer. As he prays holy Mass, he does so in the person of Christ, he presides over the faithful and proclaims the word of salvation, he associates the faithful with himself in the offering of Christ’s sacrifice and he carries out the rites with humility.

In the Person of Christ
The Second Vatican Council reiterated the perennial teaching of the Church that the priest, by virtue of his reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, offers the unique Sacrifice of the Cross with the Eucharist in the person of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 28; Presbyterorum Ordinis, No. 2). The shift from the first person plural to the first person singular for the institution narrative and Consecration of the Eucharistic prayer clearly and vividly underscores this theological reality (GIRM, No. 79d): “This is my Body. … This is the chalice of my Blood” (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayers). This theological reality must be a personal reality for every priest as he celebrates Mass. In this way, he prays the Mass, every part of the Mass, in intentional union with Christ the Priest.

The ordained priest, again by virtue of his reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, also assumes the sacramental role of Christ as Head of his Body and liturgically acts in this manner, in persona Christi Capitis (cf. CCC, No. 1548). Thus, as an example, the priest celebrant carries out the introductory rites of Mass with the people at the chair signifying his headship in Christ in relationship to the liturgical assembly, the Body of Christ assembled (GIRM, No. 124). As he greets the faithful, he is a sign of the Lord to all. As the faithful respond to the priest, the mystery of Church — head and members — gathered is manifest (No. 50). “The Lord be with you” and the response “And with your spirit” throughout the Mass expresses this theological reality repeatedly. The priest presides over the people as Christ over his Body in the Eucharist.

In his sacramental role in the Eucharist of representing Christ as Head of the Body, the priest additionally acts on behalf of those assembled (cf. CCC, No. 1552). He does this not so much as a delegate of the faithful before the Father. Rather, “the prayer and offering of the Church are inseparable from the prayer and offering of Christ, her head; it is always the case that Christ worships in and through his Church” (No. 1553). Every part of the Mass then in some way reveals the Paschal Mystery of Christ carried out by Christ with the priest and people. When the priest prays on behalf of the people to the Father, especially with the Eucharistic prayer, the collect, the prayer over the offerings and the prayer after Communion, he does so in the person of Christ and in communion with Christ as his sacrificial offering takes place with the whole of the Mass (GIRM, No. 30).

The message of salvation is the divine event fully realized with the Eucharistic prayer, the death and resurrection of the Savior and redeemer. The fundamental proclamation of this message takes place at the altar when the priest, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, recalls and makes present this event in the body and blood of the Lord. This proclamation of the mystery of Christ in the Eucharistic prayer is likewise announced with the Liturgy of the Word, which the priest directs and explicates with the homily.

As he prays the Mass, the priest must be mindful that he is not simply a leader of prayer. Rather, because of his radical configuration to Christ the Priest, he prays with Christ the Head on behalf of all assembled and all people everywhere intimately united with Christ the Head of his Body. This union with Christ the Head assigns to the priest sacramental authority to preside over the faithful and their prayer, as well as proclaim to them the word of salvation.

Associates the Faithful with Himself
The ordained priesthood is oriented to the service and the perfection of the baptismal priesthood (cf. Roman Pontifical, Rite of Ordination of Several Priests/of One Priest and CCC, No. 1547). Singularly, this is illustrated when the ordained priest brings forward the baptismal priestly offerings of the faithful to be joined to the bread and wine that will become the sacrifice of Christ.

After the altar and the gifts have been prepared, the priest says to the faithful, “Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” The sacrifice of the ministerial priest is the bread and wine that will become the sacrifice of the Cross. The sacrifice of the faithful is all that they bring forward — all that fills their minds, their hearts, their very selves — likewise to be acceptable to almighty God. The response of the faithful confirms this: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.” The sacrifice at the hands of the priest is the bread and wine and the offerings of the faithful.

Together, although in uniquely distinct ways, the priest and the faithful then offer the sacrifice of Christ with the Eucharistic prayer. This point is well expressed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as the Eucharistic prayer is described.

“Now the center and high point of the entire celebration begins, namely, the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The Priest calls upon the people to lift up their hearts towards the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he associates the people with himself in the Prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the meaning of this Prayer is that the whole congregation of the faithful joins with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice” (GIRM, No. 78).

As the center and high point of the Mass, the Eucharistic prayer belongs to all who are assembled. It takes both the priest and people to the right hand of the Father in heaven, where the perpetual sacrifice of Christ on the cross occurs for all eternity. “Lift up your hearts.” “We have lifted them up to the Lord.” At the same time, the Eucharistic prayer brings the eternal sacrifice of Christ in our midst on the altar.

St. Paul reminds the Corinthians in his teaching on the holy Eucharist not only of the manner in which the Lord gave his body and blood to all but also that eating and drinking this mystery proclaims the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:23-26). During the Communion rite of the Mass, the priest, with the consecrated Host raised above the paten or chalice, invites the faithful to holy Communion, invites them to the “supper of the Lamb.” For both the priest and the faithful, they now consume the event of the Eucharistic prayer, the sacrifice of Christ actually being celebrated (GIRM, No. 85). They eat and drink of the crucified and risen Lord in glory.

As the priest prays the Eucharistic prayer in every Mass, a conscious awe and reverence should fill him as with the Eucharist “we … pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed” (Roman Missal, preface, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). Additionally, as he prays the Eucharistic prayer and receives as well as gives the body and blood of the Lord to the faithful, he enters into a great experience of adoration. He is united with the obedient Son of God who gives his life for us and for the glory of his Father. With holy Communion, the experience of adoration becomes quite personal for the priest and the faithful, when they take to themselves the very food of the saving event of the Cross.

In recent years there has been a growing appreciation for the ars celebrandi and the celebration of the sacred liturgy. The ars celebrandi, simply put, is “the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness” (Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 38). When the priest and faithful enter into the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist with a confident observance of the descriptions and directives for the rites, then this art of proper celebration fosters the fullest form of actual participation (cf. No. 38).

For the priest, as he prays holy Mass, and especially over time, he must allow the rites to shape him, to shape his participation in the mystery of Christ. If he does so with a clear grasp of the liturgical norms, then he is destined to celebrate with dignity and humility. He becomes the servant of the sacred liturgy (cf. GIRM, No. 24) rather than taking to reordering the rites around him. His personal participation becomes a more profound conforming of himself to the mystery being celebrated, an offering of his life to God in the unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world (Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 64). Thus, remarkably, as he prays holy Mass, he can indeed convey “the living presence of Christ.”

Throughout the Mass, there are a few instances when the priest prays in his own name, which helps him to be focused. These occur before the reading of the Gospel, at the preparation of the gifts, before and after holy Communion. The quiet prayers at these times deserve renewed consideration as the priest prays holy Mass. They direct his attention to the exercise of his unique role in the Mass and that he may conduct his ministry with greater attention and devotion (cf. GIRM, No. 33). Likewise, taking time for prayerful preparation and thanksgiving before and after Mass reminds the priest of the divine encounter that is the Eucharist and the service that he alone provides for the Church in all humility (cf. Roman Missal, Preparation for Mass and Thanksgiving after Mass).

Renewed in Faith
It is painfully true, for a number of reasons, that praying the greatest prayer can become routine and tedious for too many priests. Only when priests allow themselves to reflect regularly on the gift and mystery of their vocation, their role in the celebration of the Mass, are they renewed in faith and love for so great a prayer. This renewal is deepened when a priest recalls the words of the bishop on ordination day, when the new priest receives the paten and chalice: “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross” (see Roman Pontifical, Rite of Ordination of Several Priests/of One Priest).

There is an inexplicable connection between the offering of Christ on the cross, making this same offering in the celebration of Mass and living out this offering in the priestly life. When the priest consciously makes this connection, he prays the greatest prayer, the holy Mass, in the greatest possible way.

FATHER DENNIS GILL is rector and pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia and the director of the Office for Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.


by on August 30th, 2021

By Fr. Richard Gribble CSC and published at

Contemporary society marks people as “important” if they have the proper status and credentials. Credentials are found in various forms. Titles such as Dr., Rev., Esq. are credentials that some earned through education. Positions such as CEO, president or member of Congress imply that one has power and/or influence. Economic status is certainly another credential. If people know we have money or other assets, we are placed above others. Even achievements, such as athletic records, business and/or academic awards, and recognition from society are forms of credential.

While it is certainly not bad to have credentials or to achieve position, goals or status as a product of our hard work, we must realize that none of these worldly credentials are important to God. Rather, fulfilling the Lord’s will and doing his work in the world is what Christ asks of all his followers, especially his priests.

What Scripture Says
Scripture provides numerous examples that suggest God does not look on the outside — that is, our credentials — but rather looks to the heart. The story of the choice of David to replace Saul as king of Israel is an example. From outward appearances, David, described as “ruddy, a youth with beautiful eyes, and good looking” (1 Sm 16:12), was not even considered by his father, but credentials are not important to God.

Isaiah felt totally unworthy for his call (cf. Is 6:5-8) to be a prophet, and Jeremiah was called from the womb of his mother (Jer 1:4-10).


“People love their priests, they want and need their shepherds! The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sunglasses. There is a good and healthy tiredness. It is the exhaustion of the priest who wears the smell of the sheep … but also smiles the smile of a father rejoicing in his children or grandchildren.”

— Pope Francis, Holy Thursday homily, April 2, 2015


The New Testament is equally if not richer with examples. Who did Jesus choose to be the members of his inner circle? None of the initial Twelve had any status within Hebrew society. They were all ordinary, probably poorly educated men. Immediately after receiving Peter’s answer to the question, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15), Jesus tells his disciples what the cost of their discipleship will be, stating, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt 16:26).

Worldly gain and credentials are of no significance to God. When the apostles argued who was greatest among them, Jesus responded, “For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest” (Lk 9:48). Jesus also reminded them that places of honor were not important. Rather he said that when invited to a banquet, sit in the lowest seat and possibly you will be asked to move up higher (cf. Lk 14:7-14). St. Paul, as well, although a zealous pharisaic Jew and Roman citizen, and thus one with credentials, clearly indicated that such status was of no concern to Christ, writing in Galatians 6:15, “For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.”

What Should Be the Goals?
Unquestionably, the goal that all Christians seek is to live with Christ forever. Along the road of our Christian journey, however, there are important goals, often marked by qualities of our character that we must seek out. While it should go without being mentioned, a foundational brick to our character is personal integrity. Are we men of the Gospel; are our words and actions consistent?

In a statement that challenges us, by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, then serving as rector of the North American College in Rome, states: “We claim to be men of faith, prayer, love, simplicity, chastity, fidelity, honor and generosity — and often we are not. … Priests without integrity are the Pharisees, scribes, and hypocrites of today, and he who thinks that such does not apply to him is the worst one” (“Priests for the Third Millennium,” OSV, $20.95).

It is essential that we be responsible to others: The People of God are counting on us to be the example they need. According to Cardinal Dolan, “It is tough to be men of calm magnanimous integrity if we lack the honor of accepting responsibility for our own lives.”

As men of character and manifesting personal integrity, we serve as public witnesses to others. People observe what we do and hear what we say, and thus we are viewed as representatives of the Church. We might not like this responsibility, but it comes with the role we have chosen. We must always be aware of how we are perceived. Cardinal Dolan explained: “We are ever conscious of the fact that we are a public persona in the Church. For better or worse, rightly or wrongly, we represent the Church to people. How people think of Jesus and his Church often depends on how we come across, how our human qualities are perceived. What a heavy responsibility.”

Failure of a priest to maintain proper public witness can be devastating to the faithful and harmful to the Church. The problem of observing inconsistency in the lives of the ordained is noted by Cardinal Dolan: “Sure, it’s silly to leave the Church because of the foibles of a priest, but many certainly do, and we must be scrupulous in seeing that we never give anyone such an excuse. God forbid anyone should ever grow apart from Jesus and his Spouse, the Church, because of something one said or did, or something we did not say or do when we should have.”

As ministers to God’s faithful, we must always make ourselves available. Too often, clergy protect themselves by shutting out those to whom they should minister. Certainly, there is a need, as described later, for all priests at times to step back and make certain they do not suffer burnout. However, our ministry requires us to be as available as possible. As one priest once told me, “What are we saving ourselves for; there is plenty of time to rest in eternal life.” The Australian priest David Walker has written in the Australasia Catholic Record, “To be available is the basis of service” (“The Spirituality of Ordained Ministry,” April 2010).

He adds an additional dimension: “Availability is of little use, if priests are not approachable. … Priests who are angry and arrogant towards their people, who abuse the faithful physically, mentally or verbally or who give scandal by an unchristian way of life undermine their credibility and make it difficult for the faithful to approach them. Surely nothing other than the behavior of a mature Christian life can be expected or tolerated in an ordained priest. Such an attitude will not only make them approachable but draw the faithful to them.”

Availability necessitates that priests today be in communion with the faithful; the image of an earlier time where clergy stood above the laity, possessing some special inside track to God and life eternal, must enter the dustbin of history. Pope Francis, in “Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus” (Crossroad, $16.95), addressed the need for priests to stand on level ground with those they serve: “The faithful will experience our ritual gestures as empty and abstract if we cannot tell them, I am the one who lives with you. I rejoice when you laugh, and I suffer when you cry. The people see us as superfluous if we do not transform our friendship into good liturgy, if we are incapable of making holy their daily bread. People somehow can recognize sterility and, when they do, their joy slowly departs.”

Cautions to Avoid
Knowing the short-term goals to achieve the ultimate end of eternal life leads directly to a discussion of various pitfalls and hurdles that must be negotiated to minister well to others. The issue of professionalism holds great significance for priests today. The hyphenated priest is the norm in some clerical ministries, especially true when higher education is referred to, where you often see or hear people identified as “the psychologist and priest” or similar appellations.

By the numbers sidebarIn such settings today, professional academic discipline too often trumps the clerical vocation; scholarship takes precedence to the basic ministry of the priest. Such an attitude is completely backward; we profess vows of chastity and obedience to serve God’s people. Therefore, the priority, and thus basic ministry of the clergy, is preaching the word and celebrating the sacraments.

Burnout or becoming “stale” is another pitfall to be avoided. Priesthood calls us to serve God’s people, but we need to refuel ourselves continually to properly meet the needs that come our way. Thus we must meet our personal needs while doing our best to meet the needs of God’s people in ministry.

We need to take time for ourselves. It is important to understand that the word “no” is a complete sentence. We can and at times must say “no” when we are asked to assist others.

We need to vary what we do and find satisfaction in activities outside our day-to-day ministry. Hobbies, interaction with other people and additional interests are essential. We must take care of ourselves physically, including receiving sufficient exercise and rest, eating properly and, equally importantly, maintaining our spiritual health.

Related to the challenge of burnout and the possibility of becoming stale in our ministry to God’s people is the possibility of apathy and the fear of failure. Apathy, the dread that we will lose the spirit, “the fire,” that once motivated us to do God’s work in the world, is a constant fear in apostolic ministry. Pope Francis, in “Open Mind, Faithful Heart,” wrote, “Apathy … is a feeling that eats away at the apostolic perseverance required in our mission as pastors of God’s faithful people.”

Caution is necessary to avoid the tentacles of a dispirited attitude. The pontiff warns: “We do well to recognize apathy as a reality that besieges us constantly; it is a daily threat to our lives as pastors, and we need to be humbly aware that it is always with us. That is why we must nourish ourselves with the Word of God, which gives us strength to continue moving forward.”

If we allow ourselves to be conquered by apathy, we can become paralyzed in our ministry; and then we will not be able to respond when called to act on behalf of others. Pope Francis addressed this concern: “At times, apathy takes the form of paralysis: one simply refuses to accept the rhythms of life. Other times it appears in the clownish priest who in his activities seems incapable of grounding himself in God and in the concrete history in which he must live. Occasionally, he reveals itself in those who elaborate magnificent plans without any concern for the concrete means by which they will be realized. Conversely it can be seen in those who get so wrapped up in the minutia of each moment that they cannot see beyond them in the grand plan of God.”

Clearly, we must be watchful that we do not fall victim to apathy for indeed such a failure will be destructive to both the minister and the faithful.

What God Asks of Us
There is no need for credentials in our Christian life of service. All we need to know is that we have done what God asks of us. God has given us the opportunities and gifts to serve the faithful. Our privileges are many, but so too our responsibilities. As men of integrity and humility, seeking to always be available, we must strive to always move forward, evading the pitfalls and obstacles that seek to derail us from our apostolic mission. What we do might not be fancy or catch the eye of the world, but God, who knows and sees all, is aware of our efforts. This is what will lead us to eternal life, and that is all we need.

FATHER RICHARD GRIBBLE, CSC, is a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross and presently serves as a professor of religious studies at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts.

(Source:, accessed 30 August 2021)

by on June 18th, 2021

Deacons Callum Young and Juan Jesus Borrallo will be ordained as priests on 29th June 2021 at 6pm in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

In preparation for their ordination, there will be a Vocational Prayer Vigil on Friday 25th June 2021 at 7:30pm in St Patrick’s Church, Dundalk. This evening of prayer will also be a vocational meeting in which the two deacons will speak about their own vocation stories.

Unfortunately, in line with current restrictions and the recommendations of the Public Health Authority and government guidelines, the number of participants will be limited. Nonetheless, the ceremony will be broadcast live for those who wish to watch it at this address:

Please pray for Callum and Juan Jesus in this important moment of their lives.

by on June 18th, 2021

Pope Francis told a group of young French priests on Monday that weakness is a chance for encounter with God, and not something they should try to overcome by their own strength.

“My fragility, the fragility of each one of us, is a theological place of encounter with the Lord,” he told a group of around 20 priests at a June 7 meeting at the Vatican.

“The ‘superman’ priests end up badly, all of them,” Francis said. “The fragile priest, who knows his weaknesses and talks about them with the Lord, he will be fine.”

Pope Francis encouraged the priests, who are in Rome for studies, to be pastors always acting in service of the Catholics under their care.

“Strip yourself of your preconceived ideas, your dreams of greatness, your self-affirmation, to put God and people at the center of your daily concerns,” he urged.

The pope also warned the French priests against placing the identity of being an “intellectual” above that of being a “pastor.”

“You will be a pastor in many ways, but always in the midst of God’s people,” he underlined. “The studies you do in the various Roman universities prepare you for your future tasks as pastors, and allow you to better appreciate the reality in which you are called to proclaim the Gospel of joy.”

The student priests who met with Pope Francis live together at the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

Reflecting on community life, the pope noted the temptation to gossip or to create closed-off groups which can be damaging to fraternity.

“May you always welcome one another as a gift,” he said. “In a fraternity lived in truth, in the sincerity of relationships and in a life of prayer, we can form a community in which you can breathe the air of joy and tenderness.”

“The priest is a man who, in the light of the Gospel, spreads the taste of God around him and transmits hope to restless hearts: this is how it must be,” he continued.

Francis encouraged the young priests to not be afraid to dream of a Church entirely at the service of its members and the world, stating that each of them has a contribution to make.

“Do not be afraid to dare, to take risks, to go forward because you can do everything with Christ who gives you strength,” he said. “With him you can be apostles of joy, cultivating in you the gratitude of being at the service of your brothers and of the Church.”

A sense of humor is also an important part of joy, Pope Francis said, adding that it can be one of the characteristics of holiness.

“A priest who has no sense of humor, does not like it, something is wrong. Imitate those great priests who laugh at others, at themselves and even at their own shadow,” he said.

“And cultivate within yourselves the gratitude of being at the service of your brothers and of the Church.”


by on June 5th, 2021

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
 to the Priesthood & Religious Life  - June 2021

June 6th: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
That all Catholics will adore the great gift of the Holy Eucharist given to them by Jesus Christ through the hands of His priests and that those chosen as priests will inspire many more to follow Him…

June 11th: The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (World Day of Prayer for Priests)
That those called to serve the Lord and His people as priests will be blessed with holy zeal in their prayers and apostolates…

June 13th: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
That we may have many priests and consecrated religious to show us the Lord’s kindness…

June 20th: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For a growing trust in the presence of the Lord and His call to men and women to serve Him and His Church as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life…

June 27th: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For the faith to accept the healing power of Jesus, who wants to remove every obstacle to the response of men and women chosen to follow Him as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…

by on June 1st, 2021

by on May 31st, 2021

Why not pray with Archbishop Eamon online at 8.30am on June 11th as we join the world in praying for the sanctification of priests?

Join online here:

by on May 4th, 2021

In my life I’ve listened to diverse opinions about what candidates for the priesthood should be like, how they should behave before entering the seminary and how they should lead an impeccable life. Many people believe that those men who feel the call of God to the priesthood have never missed Mass, that they know the hymnal by heart, and that their families are holy. But, the truth is, things aren’t exactly as we might imagine.

A man who’s been called to the priesthood…

1. He is still a sinner, like everybody else
It’s nothing to be scandalized about. We all are sinners simply because we have all been stained by original sin. Does God only choose the purest amongst His flock to call them? We know that in many cases He doesn’t. For example, there’s the case of Matthew, the tax collector, whom everyone considered a traitor. No one welcomed him in their home and everyone rejected him. They considered he had betrayed his people by working for the Romans, who abused the Hebrews. Yes, Saint Matthew could have been as bad as he could get, but that didn’t prevent Jesus from getting close to him with His love to call him to his encounter. “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk. 5:32).

2. He doesn’t abandon his life or his family; he purifies them
This sounds nice, but is somewhat difficult to explain. The seminarian leaves everything, his family, his friends, his projects, his studies, in short, he leaves everything behind to follow Jesus. Let’s ask ourselves: How’s he capable of doing that? Is it a momentary impulse? Possibly, but I’d dare say that no one leaves everything behind for “something” he doesn’t believe in. The vocation to the priesthood comes from a personal experience with Jesus, from a face-to-face encounter with Him. The man called to the priesthood leaves his family and everything else to be “alone with God.” It is necessary to have a time for personal reflection, to listen to God and verify if it’s a divine inspiration or not. A man called to priesthood leaves everything behind for a reality that exists and stays in his heart, something he can’t always explain.

3. He is still attracted to women
This is a very controversial topic, with many points that must be explained. Man is man by nature. God calls him to priesthood being a man, He doesn’t expect him to become a plant or a microbe. He expects him to be himself, a being created in His own image and likeness. By nature, man is attracted to women, he cannot disassociate from that, but he can commit his life to a single relationship. In this way, priesthood is similar to marriage. When a man takes a wife, he gives up all women but one, his wife. When the priest “marries” the Church, he gives up all women, including that “one” he could have had. God and His Church take her place. So, the priest makes fecund his priestly life, gathering many souls to God.

4. He doesn’t give up fatherhood
Many will agree with me when I say that the priest doesn’t give up fatherhood, but becomes a father to all. A father is devoted to his children, he takes care and watches over them just like a priest does. He takes care of his flock, watches over it and its spiritual health, he doesn’t abandon it, and is even capable of giving his life for it. That’s what it means to be a father. God said to Abraham: “No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations” (Gen. 17:5). And He fulfilled his promise! The priest has many spiritual children who ask him for advice and open their heart to him to seek what is good. It’s not necessary to have a biological bond in order to do so, he must only do what a father does; God has granted him that vocation.

5. He is unworthy of his mission
Who is worthy of a mission as great as this? No one! We are not worthy by ourselves; God makes us worthy by choosing us, when he calls us to become priests. We have lived a life of sin like everybody else. We have betrayed Jesus countless times, we have denied Him, but God doesn’t focus on our faults, he sees our renewed heart, willing to love more. He calls each and every one of us to a different vocation. Those of us that have been called to religious life or priesthood have firsthand experienced God’s mercy. How is it possible that God called someone as imperfect as me? It is possible! We only know that God calls whoever He wants. Samuel explains it clearly in his first book: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart” (1 Sam.16:7). In another verse, we read: “A contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn” (Psalm 51: 19).

6. He still makes mistakes
No one is perfect, not even the priest. Priesthood doesn’t take away the priest’s humanity; he’s still a man, still lives on the Earth, makes mistakes, and makes wrong decisions. He’s as normal as any human being. His yearning for perfection, his desire to reach God, doesn’t come from an idea or a desire to achieve personal development, but it comes from God Himself.

7. He is fully happy
Of course! A priest that isn’t happy as such should start to worry. The priest is called to live a different mission, a mission given by God. A priest’s happiness is not like that of today’s world. His happiness doesn’t come from fleeting fun, nor personal pleasures and whims; it doesn’t come from within himself. The priest’s true happiness comes from doing the Will of God and feeling deeply loved by Him. Who dares to say that love does not produce happiness? Those of us who have experienced God’s supreme love know that in it lies our happiness. Let’s imagine we’re small, thirsty birds flying throughout the desert, and suddenly we find an oasis with living water… what would we do? Drink! Wouldn’t that bird be happy with that water? Of course, it would! This might not be the best example, but it helps us understand that our little sip of the infinite ocean of God’s love produces happiness. There’s no full happiness outside from God, because He is the source of all happiness.

These were only some of the characteristics of those who have been called to priesthood. It’s now time for you to experience this fullness of love; don’t fixate only on what people say. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8).


by on April 27th, 2021

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The priesthood “is not a career, it is a service,” Pope Francis told nine men just before ordaining them to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome.

The service to which priests are called must reflect the way God has cared and continues to care for his people, a “style of closeness, a style of compassion and a style of tenderness,” the pope told the men April 25 during his homily at the ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Mass marked the first time in more than a year that Pope Francis presided at a liturgy at the main altar in the basilica and the first time that more than a few hundred people were allowed in at the same time. Close to 1,000 people, mainly family and friends of the ordinands, sat socially distanced and wearing masks throughout the Mass.

Rather than walking the entire length of the basilica, Pope Francis processed into the Mass from the Altar of the Chair, avoiding a situation where people would crowd together at the center aisle to see him up close and take photos.

The new priests, who are between the ages of 26 and 43, include six Italians, a Romania, a Colombian and a Brazilian. Six studied at Rome’s major seminary; two prepared for the priesthood at the Neocatechumenal Way’s Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rome; and one attended the Rome Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love.

On the Sunday when the Gospel reading is about the good shepherd and the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis told the new priests that they must never forget they were called from among God’s people to be shepherds.

“Be shepherds” like Jesus, he said. “Shepherds of the holy, faithful people of God. Shepherds who go with the people of God — sometimes ahead of the flock, sometimes in the midst of it or behind it, but always there with the people of God.”

Pope Francis said that as he already had mentioned to the nine in the sacristy before Mass, “Please, steer clear of the vanity, the pride of money. The devil enters through the pockets. Think about this.”

“Be poor like the holy, faithful people of God are poor,” he told them. “Don’t be climbers” seeking some kind of “ecclesiastical career.”

Priests who become “functionaries” or “businessmen,” he said, lose their contact with the people and “that poverty that makes them like Christ poor and crucified.”

Closeness is key in the life of a priest, the pope said. First, they must be close to God in prayer. Then, close to their bishop, close to one another and close to their people.

“I suggest you make a resolution today: Never speak ill of a brother priest,” he said. “If you have something against another, be a man, put on your pants, go and tell him to his face.”


by on April 22nd, 2021

Our own Bishop Michael offers some advice to those discerning the call to priesthood, diaconate and religious life...

by on April 16th, 2021

A Holy Hour for Vocations to #Priesthood will take place in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh on Friday 23 April from 8 – 9pm. You can join in person or you may wish to join in prayer via the Cathedral Webcam:

by on April 8th, 2021

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
 to the Priesthood & Religious Life  - April 2021

April 4th: Easter Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
That more men and women will joyfully answer the call of the Lord to proclaim His life, death and resurrection as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life…

April 11th: Second Sunday of Easter
For all our priests, deacons, sisters and brothers whom God has sent in the name of Jesus to serve the people of Armagh, that they will be blessed with continued faithfulness to Him and inspire many more to consider a vocation to consecrated life and ordained ministry…

April 18th: Third Sunday of Easter
For an increased awareness among our young people of the closeness of the Lord in their vocation discernment…

April 25th: Fourth Sunday of Easter (Day of Prayer for Vocations)
For an increase in vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life for our diocese and that God will raise up good shepherds in our midst…

May 2nd: Fifth Sunday of Easter
For a deeper faith, hope and love among all Christians in Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and among those He is calling to His works as a priest, deacon or consecrated religious…

by on April 7th, 2021

Message of Pope Francis for World Day of Vocations - 25th April 2021

Saint Joseph: The Dream of Vocation


Dear brothers and sisters,

8 December last, the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, marked the beginning of a special year devoted to him (cf. Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 8 December 2020). For my part, I wrote the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, whose aim was “to increase our love for this great saint”. Saint Joseph is an extraordinary figure, yet at the same time one “so close to our own human experience”. He did not do astonishing things, he had no unique charisms, nor did he appear special in the eyes of those who met him. He was not famous or even noteworthy: the Gospels do not report even a single word of his. Still, through his ordinary life, he accomplished something extraordinary in the eyes of God.

God looks on the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7), and in Saint Joseph he recognized the heart of a father, able to give and generate life in the midst of daily routines. Vocations have this same goal: to beget and renew lives every day. The Lord desires to shape the hearts of fathers and mothers: hearts that are open, capable of great initiatives, generous in self-giving, compassionate in comforting anxieties and steadfast in strengthening hopes. The priesthood and the consecrated life greatly need these qualities nowadays, in times marked by fragility but also by the sufferings due to the pandemic, which has spawned uncertainties and fears about the future and the very meaning of life. Saint Joseph comes to meet us in his gentle way, as one of “the saints next door”. At the same time, his strong witness can guide us on the journey.

Saint Joseph suggests to us three key words for each individual’s vocation. The first is dream. Everyone dreams of finding fulfilment in life. We rightly nurture great hopes, lofty aspirations that ephemeral goals – like success, money and entertainment – cannot satisfy. If we were to ask people to express in one word their life’s dream, it would not be difficult to imagine the answer: “to be loved”. It is love that gives meaning to life, because it reveals life’s mystery. Indeed, we only have life if we give it; we truly possess it only if we generously give it away. Saint Joseph has much to tell us in this regard, because, through the dreams that God inspired in him, he made of his life a gift.

The Gospels tell us of four dreams (cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13.19.22). They were calls from God, but they were not easy to accept. After each dream, Joseph had to change his plans and take a risk, sacrificing his own plans in order to follow the mysterious designs of God, whom he trusted completely. We may ask ourselves, “Why put so much trust in a dream in the night?” Although a dream was considered very important in ancient times, it was still a small thing in the face of the concrete reality of life. Yet Saint Joseph let himself be guided by his dreams without hesitation. Why? Because his heart was directed to God; it was already inclined towards him. A small indication was enough for his watchful “inner ear” to recognize God’s voice. This applies also to our calling: God does not like to reveal himself in a spectacular way, pressuring our freedom. He conveys his plans to us with gentleness. He does not overwhelm us with dazzling visions but quietly speaks in the depths of our heart, drawing near to us and speaking to us through our thoughts and feelings. In this way, as he did with Saint Joseph, he sets before us profound and unexpected horizons.

Indeed, Joseph’s dreams led him into experiences he would never have imagined. The first of these upended his betrothal, but made him the father of the Messiah; the second caused him to flee to Egypt, but saved the life of his family. After the third, which foretold his return to his native land, a fourth dream made him change plans once again, bringing him to Nazareth, the place where Jesus would begin his preaching of the Kingdom of God. Amid all these upheavals, he found the courage to follow God’s will. So too in a vocation: God’s call always urges us to take a first step, to give ourselves, to press forward. There can be no faith without risk. Only by abandoning ourselves confidently to grace, setting aside our own programmes and comforts, can we truly say “yes” to God. And every “yes” bears fruit because it becomes part of a larger design, of which we glimpse only details, but which the divine Artist knows and carries out, making of every life a masterpiece. In this regard, Saint Joseph is an outstanding example of acceptance of God’s plans. Yet his was an active acceptance: never reluctant or resigned. Joseph was “certainly not passively resigned, but courageously and firmly proactive” (Patris Corde, 4). May he help everyone, especially young people who are discerning, to make God’s dreams for them come true. May he inspire in them the courage to say “yes” to the Lord who always surprises and never disappoints.

A second word marks the journey of Saint Joseph and that of vocation: service. The Gospels show how Joseph lived entirely for others and never for himself. The holy people of God invoke him as the most chaste spouse, based on his ability to love unreservedly. By freeing love from all possessiveness, he became open to an even more fruitful service. His loving care has spanned generations; his attentive guardianship has made him patron of the Church. As one who knew how to embody the meaning of self-giving in life, Joseph is also the patron of a happy death. His service and sacrifices were only possible, however, because they were sustained by a greater love: “Every true vocation is born of the gift of oneself, which is the fruit of mature sacrifice. The priesthood and consecrated life likewise require this kind of maturity. Whatever our vocation, whether to marriage, celibacy or virginity, our gift of self will not come to fulfilment if it stops at sacrifice; were that the case, instead of becoming a sign of the beauty and joy of love, the gift of self would risk being an expression of unhappiness, sadness and frustration” (ibid., 7).

For Saint Joseph, service – as a concrete expression of the gift of self – did not remain simply a high ideal, but became a rule for daily life. He strove to find and prepare a place where Jesus could be born; he did his utmost to protect him from Herod’s wrath by arranging a hasty journey into Egypt; he immediately returned to Jerusalem when Jesus was lost; he supported his family by his work, even in a foreign land. In short, he adapted to different circumstances with the attitude of those who do not grow discouraged when life does not turn out as they wished; he showed the willingness typical of those who live to serve. In this way, Joseph welcomed life’s frequent and often unexpected journeys: from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, then to Egypt and again to Nazareth, and every year to Jerusalem. Each time he was willing to face new circumstances without complaining, ever ready to give a hand to help resolve situations. We could say that this was the outstretched hand of our heavenly Father reaching out to his Son on earth. Joseph cannot fail to be a model for all vocations, called to be the ever-active hands of the Father, outstretched to his children.

I like to think, then, of Saint Joseph, the protector of Jesus and of the Church, as the protector of vocations. In fact, from his willingness to serve comes his concern to protect. The Gospel tells us that “Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night” (Mt 2:14), thus revealing his prompt concern for the good of his family. He wasted no time fretting over things he could not control, in order to give full attention to those entrusted to his care. Such thoughtful concern is the sign of a true vocation, the testimony of a life touched by the love of God. What a beautiful example of Christian life we give when we refuse to pursue our ambitions or indulge in our illusions, but instead care for what the Lord has entrusted to us through the Church! God then pours out his Spirit and creativity upon us; he works wonders in us, as he did in Joseph.

Together with God’s call, which makes our greatest dreams come true, and our response, which is made up of generous service and attentive care, there is a third characteristic of Saint Joseph’s daily life and our Christian vocation, namely fidelity. Joseph is the “righteous man” (Mt 1:19) who daily perseveres in quietly serving God and his plans. At a particularly difficult moment in his life, he thoughtfully considered what to do (cf. v. 20). He did not let himself be hastily pressured. He did not yield to the temptation to act rashly, simply following his instincts or living for the moment. Instead, he pondered things patiently. He knew that success in life is built on constant fidelity to important decisions. This was reflected in his perseverance in plying the trade of a humble carpenter (cf. Mt 13:55), a quiet perseverance that made no news in his own time, yet has inspired the daily lives of countless fathers, labourers and Christians ever since. For a vocation – like life itself – matures only through daily fidelity.

How is such fidelity nurtured? In the light of God’s own faithfulness. The first words that Saint Joseph heard in a dream were an invitation not to be afraid, because God remains ever faithful to his promises: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid” (Mt 1:20). Do not be afraid: these words the Lord also addresses to you, dear sister, and to you, dear brother, whenever you feel that, even amid uncertainty and hesitation, you can no longer delay your desire to give your life to him. He repeats these words when, perhaps amid trials and misunderstandings, you seek to follow his will every day, wherever you find yourself. They are words you will hear anew, at every step of your vocation, as you return to your first love. They are a refrain accompanying all those who – like Saint Joseph – say yes to God with their lives, through their fidelity each day.

This fidelity is the secret of joy. A hymn in the liturgy speaks of the “transparent joy” present in the home of Nazareth. It the joy of simplicity, the joy experienced daily by those who care for what truly matters: faithful closeness to God and to our neighbour. How good it would be if the same atmosphere, simple and radiant, sober and hopeful, were to pervade our seminaries, religious houses and presbyteries! I pray that you will experience this same joy, dear brothers and sisters who have generously made God the dream of your lives, serving him in your brothers and sisters through a fidelity that is a powerful testimony in an age of ephemeral choices and emotions that bring no lasting joy. May Saint Joseph, protector of vocations, accompany you with his fatherly heart!

Rome, from Saint John Lateran, 19 March 2021, Feast of Saint Joseph