Dear Friends in Christ
The Fourth Sunday of Easter presents us with the image of Jesus our Good Shepherd. Often in the Gospel of St John Jesus says I am…reflecting the words of God spoken to Moses from the Burning Bush: I Am Who I Am. In this way Our Lord identifies Himself with the Godhead. In all of these beautiful expressions that Jesus employs He above all wishes us to understand that He is the Way. By following the lead of the Good Shepherd we are assured that we shall never stray from the fold of Christ’s Church.
On this Sunday each year we are asked to contemplate the Shepherds of the Church - our Bishops and Priests - and pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The Church that Jesus Christ founded is hierarchically arranged so that there are Shepherds to sanctify, teach and govern. Every baptised person shares in these gifts of Christ but it is through the priesthood and religious life that a permanent and visible sign is given to the world of the care of Christ the Good Shepherd. Pope Francis has recently said that the Parish always remains the basic structure of the Church. The Parish is led, governed and sanctified by the priest appointed to be in the place of Christ as Good Shepherd. At the present time, we are fortunate in our Diocese to have a good provision of priests; but we never take this for granted and future provision of vocations must always be our concern. There are six young men in formation for the priesthood in our Diocese at this time; we have just accepted another four for the seminary this year. This is an encouraging number in these times. Do pray for them, that they will persevere in the vocation we believe God has given them to serve the Church in this way. Also pray that there might be a vocation from our own Parish: it is many years since there has been a priest from Leigh! Pray that some young people may answer the call Christ makes to be fishers of men.
God bless you all!
Msgr Kevin Hale