The Rt. Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury in a sermon preached at the annual Mass of Chrism told priests that new vocations to the priesthood can only be found through recognizing the “reality of the Eucharist” and its intimate link with the ministerial priesthood.
During the Mass of sacred Chrism, an event at which the priests of the diocese annually renew the promises of their ministerial priesthood, Bishop Mark Davies said: “In treasuring this gift of priestly celibacy we need to recognize more clearly the intimate link between the Ministerial Priesthood and the reality of the Eucharist. If the Mass were ever reduced in our minds to being merely a commemorative meal and the priest as only a community leader or functionary, then the celibacy of the Catholic Priesthood might seem extravagant.
“However, once the Ministerial Priesthood is seen in the light of Christ’s own total self-giving as Bridegroom to His Bride the Church, then the self-giving of priestly celibacy becomes a reflection of the truth of Christ’s own self-gift.”
Last year the bishop had launched a house of discernment that provides the opportunity for men to prayerfully discern a life devoted to God. He urged young men and women who wish to discern their vocations to always seek the will of God by praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop Davies also announced the launch of a vocational gap year in his diocese for men discerning their call to the priesthood. He said: “In the vocations initiative starting this September at Shrewsbury Cathedral, we are offering a ‘Gap Year’ for young men considering this call to the priesthood by spending time in a parish and a community, growing in a life of prayer, getting to know the Gospel and the Catholic faith better; but, above all, being very close to the Eucharist.
The Bishop recalled how he discerned his own vocation to the priesthood precisely by praying before the Eucharist. “In the clear, gentle light of the Eucharist I dared to ask what the Lord had in mind for me and found the courage to say: ‘Yes’,” Bishop Davies said.