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The Chrism Mass is the great celebration of unity in each Diocese in the world. We gather here tonight in St Aidan’s Cathedral with priests and representatives of the parishes and Christian Communities of the Diocese. The generosity of spirt of priest and people throughout the Diocese is giving us a rich variety of initiatives, which in different ways build up the Kingdom of God. The call of the Church is to Unity but not Uniformity and Gods Holy Spirit is working in many different ways in the people and the communities of Ferns. Perhaps tonight is a moment to explore some of these and to see how the many lay initiatives are signs of hope and signs that even now, God is doing great things amongst us.

In this year, the Diocese has received the generous offering to lay ministry of 30 candidates to work in the parishes and pastoral areas of the Diocese. In these months they are discerning their call and their commitment to this ministry. In September, they will commence their formation through St Patrick’s Pontifical University in Maynooth.  During the past few weeks, you will have been aware of the publicity campaign called “Our Future Church”. This is a practical invitation to all the Church areas to support this initiative financially. On behalf of the Diocese, I want to thank the many people who have generously supported this initiative to date. 

In September, some of our candidates will begin training for the Ministry of Pastoral Care. Their focus will be on ministry to those who are vulnerable in our parishes and in our society including the sick, the bereaved and all those who, for one reason or another, may be finding the journey of life difficult. Later, we will bless the oil of the Sick and pray that those who will be anointed with this oil and their families will be supported by the prayer of the Church and by the ministry of priests, pastoral workers and the generous care of family, neighbours and friends.

Other candidates will begin training for the Ministry of Catechist in the Diocese.  When their training is complete, their role will be to help families, parishes and schools to nurture and grow the seeds of faith in a very different culture to that which they and most of you listening grew up. Later we will bless the oils of Catechumens and Chrism which are used in the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism and Confirmation. These sacred moments which are so precious to us are but the start of the journey of faith, a journey which needs to be nurtured if it is to grow. The role of our new Catechists will be to serve as companions on this faith journey to parents, to families, to school communities and to all, young or old who will be led by the Spirit to deepen their faith.

The call of all who are in Ministry today and all who take the Gospel message seriously, is to be Missionary – we are living in a time and society where the message of the Gospel is not easily heard. It is a message that is both challenging and consoling and the ground of society is ready for that seed of faith. The mark of ministry in that new environment will be the mark of listening and the mark of welcome.

We give thanks to God this evening for the sign of new life in our diocese that is represented by these new ministries.  As they continue their journey of academic and practical training, I assure each of them of my support and of my commitment to ensuring that the structures of the Diocese will enable them to be effective ministers to the Gospel.

In addition to these new candidates, there are many people who have engaged with different ways of building up the Kingdom of God over the past year. Praying with Scripture groups have opened the wonders of the Word of God to many people. All over the Diocese, spirit groups, pilgrimage groups and the work of youth ministry has called young people to explore their faith and find in it a resource for the challenges of life.

The priests of the Diocese, like priests everywhere have generously responded to a changing world and are committing themselves again to a “vocation within a vocation”. Change is always difficult but tonight I offer these words of Pope John Paul in Pastores Dabo Vobis (I shall give you shepherds) – ‘The more the ordained ministry supports and encourages and empowers the lay vocation, the more what is proper to the priest stands out’.

Our job as priests is to help you be priests, prophets and kings; the vocation assigned to us all at our Baptism. To continue our commitment to ministry, we are creating a culture of Vocation, a culture of calling people to the service of Christ and his people. To quote the little phrase from the Year of Vocations – “to take a risk for Christ”. All Christian living is “risk taking” and none more so than the risk of offering part or all of our lives to Christ. If we truly attempt to create Christian communities, we will be tilling the ground where all vocations will grow. It is a matter both of Praying for and Working for Vocations.

Recognising our own vocation is the starting point of a Culture of Vocation which will lead others, especially our young people, to see a life lived in the service of Gods people as a meaningful life. But the Culture of Vocation starts with our own understanding of our Baptism and its implications. In this Chrism Mass, this celebration of unity, we ask God our Father through the life of Christ and the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide us all in ministry so that we may be shepherds of his people and a light for the world.


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