Growth and zeal for mission: a Vocations update

2017 has been a graced year. Not only have we had the opportunity of celebrating the diocese’s centenary, but there is a real sense of growth and new zeal for mission around the diocese. This was especially felt at the Chrism Mass on Wednesday of Holy Week, when the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese gathered around Archbishop George Stack. During the Chrism Mass at Cardiff Cathedral, His Grace announced with joy the news of the beginning of a sequence of ordinations:

 

“On 22nd July Daniel Stanton will be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cardiff having studied at St. Mary’s Oscott for the last six years. On 29th July, Peter McLaren will be ordained to the priesthood having served as a permanent Deacon for ten years. Robert James will be ordained a Deacon on 10th June and similarly Nicholas Williams on 24th June.”

 

His Grace also spoke of the changing face of pastoral ministry, and the need to be able to adapt to such changes in a world in which so often rejects the value that religion contributes to society. Archbishop George observes:

 

“These new priests will have to minister in changing and challenging circumstances – not least in an age and culture which at times tries to airbrush faith out of the picture and at other times is hostile to the implications of religion.”

 

Those who are preparing for ordination to the diaconate and priesthood, or who have been ordained in the last few months – these are the men who have responded with a generous ‘yes’ to the invitation of the Lord to “come, follow me” – are all very different; each one has heard and responded to the call of the Lord in his own way, and at the right time. While some are in their twenties and thirties, there is also, the Rev. Peter Mclaran, who brings with him the riches of family life.  So who are our new ordinands?

Rev. Daniel Stanton (to be ordained priest July 22nd 2017)

I am originally from Maesteg. Before entering the seminary I was in university in London, reading Theology at St. Mary’s in Twickenham. I began formation for the priesthood in 2010. My first weekend in formation included the Papal Visit of Pope Benedict XVI, in which I was privileged to have my photograph taken with his Holiness and all the other seminarians from the dioceses of England and Wales. I spent my first year at St. Alan’s College, Valladolid, and then that last five and a half years at Oscott College, in Birmingham.

I was ordained to the diaconate on 25th June 2016 in the college chapel at Oscott. This was such an emotional day. Since January, I have been working with Canon Matthew Jones in the 3Churches parish, in the north of Cardiff. For me, this has been a time of affirmation and encouragement, both from the clergy and the parishioners, who have welcomed me with open arms.

I am in the last stages of preparation for ordination to the priesthood, on Saturday 22nd July at Cardiff Cathedral. Discerning a vocation to the priesthood is tough. Yet it is rewarding in such a way that it is difficult to put into words. Pope Benedict said that when people pray, vocations blossom. Please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood in our Archdiocese; and also pray for the gift of your priests, and the work that they do among us.

Rev. Peter P. McLaren (to be ordained priest July 29th 2017)

After 52 years of marriage and 11yrs as a Permanent Deacon, the past 10 months in Allen Hall Seminary have been a great challenge but an enjoyable and rewarding one. The life of prayer in the house of St Thomas More is a beautiful experience which I believe has brought me closer to our Lord as I discerned his call to priesthood. My fellow seminarians, who will be discerning that call for up to 7yrs., are my hero’s. They study and work so hard for such little material reward but their efforts inspired me and their friendship help keep me young. I thank, Archbishop George, for sending me to Allen Hall and Canon Roger Taylor and all at the seminary staff for their help and encouragement and all of you for your prayers.

Rev. Nick Williams (ordained Deacon – June 24th 2017)

Looking back at the last five years studying for the priesthood, it almost seems like yesterday when, as a first year, I had freshly left my job, to arrive at the college gates in nervous anticipation of what the following six years would bring. At the same time, the prospect of ordination felt extremely remote, and yet, at the end of each academic year, I kept finding myself increasingly surprised at how quickly the time had passed. At Oscott, every last Saturday in June is marked by ordinations of fifth year students to the diaconate, and now, I find myself approaching this juncture also. Despite the extensive preparation preceding the Church’s “Yes” (expressed publicly at Candidacy in the same way a bride consents to marry the bridegroom), it is at diaconal ordination that I formally commit to lifelong celibacy, service and obedience to the Church and the Archbishop. It is this “service” at the heart of the diaconate, which I carry through, God willing, to priesthood, and in which I hope to be sustained in faithful ministry.

Rev. Robert James (ordained Deacon June 10th 2017)

Saturday 10th June was a day filled with joy, but also some heightened nerves! 7 men were ordained to the Diaconate for service in dioceses of Westminster and Nottingham, and me, for service in the diocese of Cardiff. The last 6 years of formation have been a time of personal and spiritual growth; there have been some challenging times but also times of great graces. As I lay on the floor of the sanctuary of Westminster Cathedral the only thought going through my mind was ‘Lord, give me the grace to be your servant’ – as I prepare for my final year of seminary formation all I can do is ask that you pray for me, knowing that I am praying for you.

Maybe you are considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Our Lord is calling to you – “come, follow me”. How will you respond?

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