My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The generosity of Christ shines through in our Gospel today when He speaks of Himself as a Good Shepherd who defends His flock at all times. He even lays down His life rather than abandon them to danger. This familiar pastoral image of a heroic shepherd totally devoted to the welfare of his sheep is Christ’s way of explaining how great is His love for us, His brothers and sisters. It is a love that has no limits, and it is a love of which the apostle John speaks about in our second reading.
Christ has left the Church the task of telling the world the story of His love. He has always called other shepherds in every age and season to feed and nourish His people by proclaiming the Gospel and celebrating His life-giving sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. So it is that the Church worldwide calls upon each one of us today to pray earnestly to the Father to send us new shepherds after the heart of Christ. This is Good Shepherd Sunday and so every single one of us has the obligation to pray insistently that we will have priestly shepherds for tomorrow.
As you must be aware, dear brothers and sisters, we are experiencing a time of need in our Diocese of Lancaster where priestly vocations are concerned. The diminishing number of priests and seminarians has meant the merger and linking of parishes, a process that is far from finished. In his message for this Sunday, Pope Francis urges young people to be bold and courageous in answering the Lord’s call. Young people need our help too in the Church – let all of us – parents, grandparents, teachers, priests, religious and laity, encourage and promote those considering a vocation and never hold them back with our own anxiety and discouragement. God will reward their generosity – and ours – in ways we can only imagine.
The Church has always turned to Our Blessed Lady in times of challenge and need. Mary’s response to God’s invitation was total, and her faith and love gave the world Jesus Christ, our Lord and saviour. With the powerful assistance of her prayers, joined to ours, may the Lord look kindly on His Church and upon our Diocese of Lancaster in particular, and send us sufficient priestly and heroic shepherds to care for and feed the flock He has redeemed with His blood.
Assuring you of my prayers, and with a blessing,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster
To find out more about the Priesthood in the Diocese of Lancaster contact one of the Vocations Team
Fr. Darren Carden – email@example.com
Tel: 01772 719604 Mobile 07552 795060
Fr. John Millar – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 01228 521509