The same Lord, however, has established ministers among his faithful to unite them together in one body in which, “not all the members have the same function” (Rom 12:4). These ministers in the society of the faithful are able by the sacred power of orders to offer sacrifice and to forgive sins, and they perform their priestly office publicly for men in the name of Christ.
PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS, §2 – Vatican Council II
How best to describe all that the vocation of diocesan priesthood encapsulates? Really it’s an impossible task. So rather than trying below there are two testimonies from priests of our diocese who share their own few words of wisdom regarding the call.
Monsignor Brian Dazeley (Ordained 1961)
It’s ridiculous really but I first felt the call to the priesthood at the age of 10 in 1947. Every member of Church receives an invitation at the moment of Baptism to follow Our Lord. Over the years we begin to understand and try to respond to those words ‘Come follow me’. It is the beginning of a great adventure, a love affair with Jesus Christ which will only be complete when we meet the Lord face to face. In my case following Jesus led me to the priesthood.
Sometimes people will ask if it is difficult to be a priest. Yes it is sometimes but no more difficult than it is for anyone trying to respond to that invitation given at Baptism. At other times people have asked if I have any regrets. I have no regrets as someone once famously sang but I am sorry for mistakes made over the years. I have discovered that the best way to deal with mistakes, after repentance, is to laugh at my foolishness. A sense of humour, essential for anyone who is trying to follow Jesus, is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Church into which I was ordained in October 1961 seems rather different from the Church of today but the call remains the same: to follow Christ wherever He goes and to serve the people of God wherever, whenever and however the Church requires. I have been sustained over these past 54 years as a priest by the gentle love and friendship of Jesus which I have experienced in such abundance through the people I was sent to serve.
During these last 2 years I have celebrated the weekend Masses in many different parishes. In every case without exception I have come home thinking I would love to be a priest working with that parish community.
Often in the Gospels we hear Jesus say those encouraging words; ‘Don’t be afraid’. If you hear Our Lord whisper in your ear or tug at your heart strings then talk it over first with Jesus then speak with a priest. Both will know how you feel.
Father Neil Peoples (Ordained 2013)
OPTATAM TOTIUS (Decree on the Training of Priests)
Vatican Council II on 28th October, 1965
PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests)
Vatican Council II on 7th December, 1965
SACERDOTALIS CAELIBATUS (On The Celibacy of the Priest)
Encyclical of Bl. Pope Paul VI on 24th June, 1967
THE PRIEST AND CONFESSION (Excerpt, Apostolic Exhortation “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia”)
Pope St. John Paul II on 12th February, 1984
DIRECTORY ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS
Congregation for the Clergy on 31st March, 1994
THE PRIEST, PASTOR AND LEADER OF THE PARISH COMMUNITY
Congregation for the Clergy on 4th August, 2002