Pastoral Letter Sunday 29 April 2012

Pastoral Letter to be read in all churches and chapels of the Archdiocese of Liverpool on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.   Sunday, 29 April 2012, the Fourth Sunday of Easter.

My dear People,

On various occasions in recent months I have celebrated and affirmed marriage and family life, the life and ministry of Religious and Youth Ministry, especially Animate.

Today my specific responsibility is to articulate the Lord’s calling to be priests of our diocese.

So I am looking for men who are crazy for power, hearts set on resounding victory, and fascinated by being in control.

Crazy for power: I mean for the power of Peter to speak, decide, act only in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene: to find their way of seeing, reading, judging, choosing so changed that it is clear for them: ‘of all the names in the world, the name of Jesus is the only one by which we can be saved’.  I am looking out for those crazy for the power personally to know and so confidently to proclaim: He is the Saviour of the world.

Again I must search and find men whose hearts are set on resounding victory: victory over that world which ‘because it refused to acknowledge him, therefore does not acknowledge us’.  It is the world which Saint John describes as only knowing: ‘the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life’.

Or in the words of the poet T.S.Eliot: the world is the weary, enslaved, aimless story of:

‘Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning Death,
Those who glitter with the glory of the humming bird, meaning, Death,
Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning Death,
Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals meaning Death.’

I am looking out for those who will lay down life for the harassed, dejected crowds, meandering like sheep without a shepherd.

And we need men who choose to be in total control: becoming so focussed, so set free by the truth that they dare to become such men that they can say:

‘The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down,
so it is in my power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have been
given by my Father.’

That means wrestling in prayer, penetrating to the depths of the loving wisdom and wisest love of the Holiest, never running away from, in Shakespeare’s words:

‘The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, a sea of troubles, the heart ache, and the thousand shocks that flesh is heir to’.

We need priests who will live abundantly and choose the way of sorrows and joys, not the way that only seeks pleasure and avoids pain at whatever cost.

We need shepherds not hired men.  Please pray for us all.

Please pray for: Jonathan Brown, Gerard Callacher, Liam Collister, Joseph Kendall and Paul O’Grady whose ordinations will gladden us this year.

Pray with gratitude for those priests who have died in the last twelve months.  Rev Kenneth Smith, Rev Terence McSweeney, Rev Frederick Callon, Rev Michael Williams, Right Rev Ambrose Griffiths OSB, Rev David Morland OSB, Rev Patrick Kelly, Rev Dermot O’Donoghue, Rev David Bullen, Rev Patrick Walsh SSS, Canon James Collins, Deacon Terence Cunningham.

And please be generous in the collection for the fund that enables the formation of power crazy, victory obsessed, control freaks; but it is the power of the crucified, the victory of mercy the control of liberating, saving truth.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

+Patrick Kelly
Archbishop of Liverpool