Vocations directors meet at the Sainte-Croix seminary
by Father TIEN CAO
Each year, vocation directors from all New Zealand dioceses meet at Holy Cross Seminary and, with the staff there, we discuss, learn and plan together how we can best support and accompany our candidates for the priesthood in the context of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. We are all excited about this role and we take it seriously.
We are excited that there are many individuals and prayer groups in wards across the country who regularly pray for priesthood vocations. It is an indication that the Spirit of God arouses the desire of our hearts to pray for more vocations, and our prayer reminds us that the Lord never ceases to provide us shepherds according to his heart.
We are a priestly people; the Lord nourishes us and leads us in many different ways and paths. As Catholics, we know that nothing and no one can replace the sacraments of Jesus. It is Jesus Christ who instituted the sacraments so that he remains with us constantly and to provide us with his life-giving graces.
Of the sacraments, Christ grants us grace upon grace. From the moment of our baptism into new life in the Holy Trinity, until the moment of our first reconciliation, communion and confirmation, until priestly ordination, the sacred vows of marriage and the anointing of the sick, Christ constantly nourishes us with his love and grace.
Conscious of the essential nature of the priesthood, the Catholic community never ceases to pray that God will give us ardent and gentle shepherds according to his heart. Saint John Vianney, the Curé of Ars (who is also the patron saint of diocesan priests and of all priests), reflects: “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus”, it is at the heart of his love and of all priests. his salvation for our community of faith.
As diocesan vocation directors of the Church in New Zealand, we are delighted each time a young person begins to say “yes” to God in order to begin the process of discernment if God wants him to become a priest for his or her. people. On the one hand, it is a privilege for us to walk with these men, to nourish their discernment and to share with them the gift of our priesthood as they begin this journey. On the other hand, it is also their privilege that we are made available as servants of God to accompany them in their lifelong vocational journey.
At our gathering in July, we also discussed that our dioceses face the challenge that men in our community of faith may not have deeply heard Christ’s invitation. For this reason, many of our current candidates for the priesthood in our seminary come from overseas (eg Vietnam and the Philippines).
We thank God for the dynamic of the universality of the Catholic Church for this providence; however, we also hope and pray that the men of faith in New Zealand take seriously the
invitation of Christ to discern his call to the priesthood.
Our hope for the vocation to the priesthood in New Zealand is that through our prayers, encouragement, and regular invitations, men of faith will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and have the courage to respond to it.
We also hope that parishioners and pastors across the country will continue to actively encourage, identify and invite men of faith in parishes to discern the vocation to the priesthood.
We, vocation directors, are ready to accompany them.