Dear friends,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday, and is a day of special prayer for vocations to the sacred priesthood. Thank you to those who, during Lent, supported our Lent Appeal for the Additional Curates Society – who, for over 170 years, have provided priests in some of the poorest and most populous parishes in the country. If you have not yet already done so, please now return your ACS Lent Appeal box – so that your donations can be counted, and forwarded to the ACS.

Good Shepherd Sunday is an opportunity for all of us to think about our vocation within the Church – the particular ministry and service to which we are called, and for which we are equipped by God. Part of every Christian’s discipleship is to discern God’s will and purpose for their lives – the mission implanted in our hearts at our Baptism. Every one of us is called to be a committed Christian in our particular context and circumstances, to live out the Gospel in every area of our lives, and to offer our time, talents, treasure and energy to the service of God in the Church. As St John Henry Newman famously wrote, ‘God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission…

Some men, however, will also be called specifically to the ministerial priesthood – and every man should ask himself whether this is in fact his call. Every member of a church congregation should likewise be alert to the possibility of a priestly vocation in their midst – and should pray for and encourage this important dimension of the Church’s life. We could usefully include the ACS’s own prayer in our daily intercessions: ‘Almighty God, give us priests: to establish the honour of your holy Name; to offer the holy sacrifice of the altar; to give us Jesus in the holy Sacrament; to proclaim the faith of Jesus; to baptise and to teach the young; to tend your sheep; to seek the lost; to give pardon to the penitent sinner; to bless our homes; to pray for the afflicted; to comfort mourners; to strengthen us in our last hour; to commend our souls: almighty God, give us priests!

As the Annual Meeting approaches on 14 May, please both put this date into your diary, and review the 2022 Annual Report and Accounts, included herewith.

With my best wishes and prayers,

Fr Richard