The Bishop of Plymouth urged members of his diocese to pray the rosary at least once a week for priestly vocations.
In a pastoral letter, which is expected to be read out in all parishes across the diocese this weekend, Bishop Mark O’Toole said: “To encourage an atmosphere of prayer for vocations in the diocese, I am asking each parish to pray the rosary, at least once a week for priestly vocations, on a day and at a time that is most suitable for you.”
The bishop also asked his flock to encourage others in their priestly vocations. He said: “Please also look at your community and encourage those young men within it who may be called to the priesthood. It is only God who can give us these vocations, and we know that Mary, especially, can assist us in our efforts. We entrust our desire and need for vocations to her in a ‘circle of prayer’ across the diocese.
“I ask you, also, to continue to pray in your families and at home to encourage our young people in the choices they make in life, that they be open to a priestly or religious vocation.”
He continued: “We are fortunate to have three men studying for the priesthood and two new men who are starting their priestly formation for our diocese this September. As well as keeping them in your prayers, I would ask you to be generous in the collection for the Seminarians Fund which takes place at the end of mass today and which will assist with their formation in the years ahead.”
Bishop O’Toole recalled that when he was training for the priesthood he was a “naive young man”. He continued: “But at some level I wanted to be the kind of priest who was a cross between Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons, converting the world! Of course, the reality is that idealism and sacrifice are attractive to the young. Nobody wants to join something that’s died the death of a thousand compromises.
“We need to continue to put before the men and women of our day the challenge of following Christ. We need to pray and work for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. These are precious paths on which to encourage our young people to embark. We need also to give others the accompaniment they need in order to be able to make generous decisions about their lives.
“I am particularly asking you all to continue to pray for and encourage vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese. In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles today we hear how Paul and Barnabas were vital in ensuring that the Good News spread, so that more and more people were able to encounter the Lord Jesus. The ministry of the priest is vital in this proclamation.”