Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s post on the Bishop’s Blog!
Our four diocesan seminarians have this weekend completed their pastoral placements in different parishes around the Diocese of Lancaster. A feature of modern seminary life is that each year a student does a pastoral placement for about a month to become acquainted with the realities of day to day life in a parish of the diocese. St. Mary’s Oscott, where our seminarians prepare, also arrange during term time for the students to be attached to a parish in the Birmingham area, again with the aim of enriching their pastoral experience in a variety of situations.
The reasons for these pastoral placements is to make sure that when a seminarian becomes a deacon, and eventually a priest, he will have been already inducted into some of the challenges of parish life in today’s Church. Three of our Lancaster seminarians have spent most of the month of January in Our Lady of Furness, Barrow, Sacred Heart, Blackpool, and St. Cuthbert’s, Blackpool, respectively. The fourth seminarian has just spent three months in the parishes of St. Joseph’s, Ansdell and St. Peter’s, Lytham. I met all four this week and they spoke of the rewarding and new experience they had in their different pastoral assignments.
The four now return to Oscott seminary, enriched for their time back in the diocese, and no doubt eager to compare notes with their fellow seminarians from other dioceses. I am grateful to the parish priests who have responded generously to my request to host a student for their designated placement. I need hardly add how much our people like to see a student for the priesthood among them, for a seminarian represents a sign of hope and the presence of God’s grace in the life of a person who wishes to follow the call of the Lord as a priest. I also express my gratitude to the people of the respective parishes who have made our seminarians so welcome. The warmth and friendliness of their reception has meant a lot to our four seminarians.
Although our numbers in training for the priesthood are fewer nowadays than previously has been the case, we are grateful to the Lord for the gift of the four students we have, one of whom we hope will be ordained priest later in the year.
I am also aware, as Bishop, of the prayers and especially Eucharistic devotions for vocations which take place regularly and quietly all around the diocese, and thank sincerely everyone who takes part in such pious exercises. We need never fear that the Lord in his own time and in his own way will answer our prayers for vocations for tomorrow.
Let us pray for our seminarians, while at the same time asking the Lord of the harvest to send others to join them. Never forget that faith can move mountains!
Until next – May God bless you all!
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster