Archbishop Muller to the Priests of Scotland

Archbishop Muller to the Priests of Scotland

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As part of national efforts in support of the Year of Faith, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland welcomed His Excellency Archbishop Müller,  Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Archbishop Müller spoke to the priests on the theme of "New Evangelisation".

The full text of Archbishop Müller's address is available here Archbishop Muller's Address to Priests.

Archbishop Müller also presented a letter from His Eminence Cardinal Bertone expressing the Holy Father's good wishes and his Apostolic Blessing for the Church in Scotland.

Message from Pope Francis

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Vocations Sunday 2013

Vocations Sunday 2013

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Theme: Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the occasion of the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on 21 April 2013, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite you to reflect on the theme: “Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith”, which happily occurs during the Year of Faith, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. While the Council was in session, the Servant of God, Paul VI, instituted this day of worldwide prayer to God the Father, asking him to continue to send workers for his Church (cf. Mt 9:38). “The problem of having a sufficient number of priests”, as the Pope stated at the time, “has an immediate impact on all of the faithful: not simply because they depend on it for the religious future of Christian society, but also because this problem is the precise and inescapable indicator of the vitality of faith and love of individual parish and diocesan communities, and the evidence of the moral health of Christian families. Wherever numerous vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life are to be found, that is where people are living the Gospel with generosity” (Paul VI, Radio Message, 11 April 1964).

During the intervening decades, the various Christian communities all over the world have gathered each year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, united in prayer, to ask from God the gift of holy vocations and to propose once again, for the reflection of all, the urgent need to respond to the divine call. Indeed, this significant annual event has fostered a strong commitment to placing the importance of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life ever more at the centre of the spirituality, prayer and pastoral action of the faithful.

Hope is the expectation of something positive in the future, yet at the same time it must sustain our present existence, which is often marked by dissatisfaction and failures. On what is our hope founded? Looking at the history of the people of Israel, recounted in the Old Testament, we see one element that constantly emerges, especially in times of particular difficulty like the time of the Exile, an element found especially in the writings of the prophets, namely remembrance of God’s promises to the Patriarchs: a remembrance that invites us to imitate the exemplary attitude of Abraham, who, as Saint Paul reminds us, “believed, hoping against hope, that he would become ‘the father of many nations,’ according to what was said, ‘Thus shall your descendants be’" (Rom 4:18). One consoling and enlightening truth which emerges from the whole of salvation history, then, is God’s faithfulness to the covenant that he entered into, renewing it whenever man infringed it through infidelity and sin, from the time of the flood (cf. Gen 8:21-22) to that of the Exodus and the journey through the desert (cf. Dt 9:7). That same faithfulness led him to seal the new and eternal covenant with man, through the blood of his Son, who died and rose again for our salvation.

At every moment, especially the most difficult ones, the Lord’s faithfulness is always the authentic driving force of salvation history, which arouses the hearts of men and women and confirms them in the hope of one day reaching the “promised land”. This is where we find the sure foundation of every hope: God never abandons us and he remains true to his word. For that reason, in every situation, whether positive or negative, we can nourish a firm hope and pray with the psalmist: “Only in God can my soul find rest; my hope comes from him” (Ps 62:6). To have hope, therefore, is the equivalent of trusting in God who is faithful, who keeps the promises of the covenant. Faith and hope, then, are closely related. “Hope” in fact is a key word in biblical faith, to the extent that in certain passages the words “faith” and “hope” seem to be interchangeable. In this way, the Letter to the Hebrews makes a direct connection between the “unwavering profession of hope” (10:23) and the “fullness of faith” (10:22). Similarly, when the First Letter of Saint Peter exhorts the Christians to be always ready to give an account of the “logos” – the meaning and rationale – of their hope (cf. 3:15), “hope” is the equivalent of “faith” (Spe Salvi, 2).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, what exactly is God’s faithfulness, to which we adhere with unwavering hope? It is his love! He, the Father, pours his love into our innermost self through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5). And this love, fully manifested in Jesus Christ, engages with our existence and demands a response in terms of what each individual wants to do with his or her life, and what he or she is prepared to offer in order to live it to the full. The love of God sometimes follows paths one could never have imagined, but it always reaches those who are willing to be found. Hope is nourished, then, by this certainty: “We ourselves have known and believed in the love that God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16). This deep, demanding love, which penetrates well below the surface, gives us courage; it gives us hope in our life’s journey and in our future; it makes us trust in ourselves, in history and in other people. I want to speak particularly to the young and I say to you once again: “What would your life be without this love? God takes care of men and women from creation to the end of time, when he will bring his plan of salvation to completion. In the Risen Lord we have the certainty of our hope!” (Address to Young People of the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, 19 June 2011).

Just as he did during his earthly existence, so today the risen Jesus walks along the streets of our life and sees us immersed in our activities, with all our desires and our needs. In the midst of our everyday circumstances he continues to speak to us; he calls us to live our life with him, for only he is capable of satisfying our thirst for hope. He lives now among the community of disciples that is the Church, and still today calls people to follow him. The call can come at any moment. Today too, Jesus continues to say, “Come, follow me” (Mk 10:21). Accepting his invitation means no longer choosing our own path. Following him means immersing our own will in the will of Jesus, truly giving him priority, giving him pride of place in every area of our lives: in the family, at work, in our personal interests, in ourselves. It means handing over our very lives to Him, living in profound intimacy with Him, entering through Him into communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit, and consequently with our brothers and sisters. This communion of life with Jesus is the privileged “setting” in which we can experience hope and in which life will be full and free.

Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and confident dialogue with him, so as to enter into his will. It is necessary, therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to his voice which is heard deep within us. This process, which enables us to respond positively to God’s call, is possible in Christian communities where the faith is lived intensely, where generous witness is given of adherence to the Gospel, where there is a strong sense of mission which leads people to make the total gift of self for the Kingdom of God, nourished by recourse to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and by a fervent life of prayer. This latter “must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly.” (Spe Salvi, 34).

Deep and constant prayer brings about growth in the faith of the Christian community, in the unceasingly renewed certainty that God never abandons his people and that he sustains them by raising up particular vocations – to the priesthood and the consecrated life – so that they can be signs of hope for the world. Indeed, priests and religious are called to give themselves unconditionally to the People of God, in a service of love for the Gospel and the Church, serving that firm hope which can only come from an openness to the divine. By means of the witness of their faith and apostolic zeal, therefore, they can transmit, especially to the younger generations, a strong desire to respond generously and promptly to Christ who calls them to follow him more closely. Whenever a disciple of Jesus accepts the divine call to dedicate himself to the priestly ministry or to the consecrated life, we witness one of the most mature fruits of the Christian community, which helps us to look with particular trust and hope to the future of the Church and to her commitment to evangelization. This constantly requires new workers to preach the Gospel, to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So let there be committed priests, who know how to accompany young people as “companions on the journey”, helping them, on life’s often tortuous and difficult path, to recognize Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6), telling them, with Gospel courage, how beautiful it is to serve God, the Christian community, one’s brothers and sisters. Let there be priests who manifest the fruitfulness of an enthusiastic commitment, which gives a sense of completeness to their lives, because it is founded on faith in him who loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19).

Equally, I hope that young people, who are presented with so many superficial and ephemeral options, will be able to cultivate a desire for what is truly worthy, for lofty objectives, radical choices, service to others in imitation of Jesus. Dear young people, do not be afraid to follow him and to walk the demanding and courageous paths of charity and generous commitment! In that way you will be happy to serve, you will be witnesses of a joy that the world cannot give, you will be living flames of an infinite and eternal love, you will learn to “give an account of the hope that is within you” (1 Pt 3:15)!

From the Vatican, 6 October 2012


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Thirty Quotes # 29

Thirty Quotes # 29

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“Christ continues to call young disciples…face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity” (Pope Benedict XVI to Seminarians 20 VIII 2011)

 Christ continues to call, his voice is not silent: but the call that Christ makes to priesthood is a challenge, the radical call to live the message of the Gospel. When this call is made, for those who receive it, nothing else will satisfy. When this call is made then no matter how difficult it might seem to respond to it, how challenging to accept it, “God gives the right grace to face and overcome the challenges with love and realism” (Pope Benedict XVI to Seminarians 20 VIII 2011). This is why there need be no anxiety: the call may seem to us to be beyond our ability, but if it is God who calls then he will also provide the grace needed to give the response that He desires of us. The call will also find us responding in a whole-hearted way, without any trace of mediocrity. For in this call we seek to be modelled completely on Christ, to identify with him in such a way that we find ourselves filled with joy, yet humble in the face of such a task. For those called then, this is the path that Christ has chosen for them through which they will fulfil their calling to be his Saints. Christ calls…face the challenge!

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Thirty Quotes # 28

Thirty Quotes # 28

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“God wants us to be happy always”

If you were Pope Benedict, would you have written that sentence? I’m guessing most people would think God wants us to be ‘holy’; wouldn’t God want us to spend time praying, because we assume that is what it means to be holy? Perhaps God would want us always to be ‘compassionate’, taking care of others; after all, Jesus told his followers to be compassionate as their heavenly Father is compassionate? High up on the list would be ‘forgiving’: Jesus insisted that unless people are prepared to forgive others from the heart, they can scarcely expect God to forgive them.

You’ll have your own suggestions for things that God wants us always to be, but I bet few people would put ‘happy’ on that list: Pope Benedict did, thought, when he addressed poor children in Mexico, including children there who had suffered so much. So why is Pope Benedict so sure that God always wants us to be happy?

To be happy is to know you have what is really important: happiness is not wealth, power, influence, entertainment: happiness is knowing that what you need is exactly what God wants for you. And to know that you have all that God wants you to have is to be very fortunate indeed. After his resurrection, Jesus left behind gifts to ensure our happiness, gifts which provide us with what God wants for us: 1) a peace the world cannot give: with that peace, we need not be afraid, 2) the Holy Spirit, to teach us everything we need to know of God, 3) the power to forgive, because when we release others from the burden of the hurt they did to us, we release ourselves as well. Perhaps Pope Benedict chose happiness because he knows that only true happiness can make us free.

So…are you happy? And if not, what stops you from being truly happy?

 Rev. Robert Hill

(MARCH 23-29, 2012)
, Greeting to the children gathered at Plaza de la Paz in Guanajuato (León, 24 March 2012)

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About Priests For Scotland

About Priests For Scotland

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Being a priest serving the Catholic community in Scotland today is fast changing.  There are fewer engaged in active ministry than in the past and the Catholic population is changing - it is diminishing in size, the average age is increasing, it is becoming ever-more diverse, and, with the influence of our increasingly-secular world, regular church practice is declining.


And yet the tasks a priest will engage in - and the expectations of him from both within and outside the Church community - seem to increase as the years go by.


Consecration--Chalice--mass-hands--440949In all that, however, one essential truth remains: it is a privilege and a joy to give one's life in service of Christ and his People.  Whatever the daily demands and pressures, the expectations and worries a priest might experience, it remains an immense privilege to bring the healing power of Christ to the lives of the sick, the sinner, the lost; there is a powerful drive to build up the Kingdom of God in our communities, among our families, and in the hearts of individuals; it is a deep and unspeakable joy - and a responsibility before which every priest quakes - to feel that one is acting in the name of Jesus Christ, preaching his word, celebrating his life, and sharing his love and his sacrifice with the people of our time.

No one is a priest for himself alone: priesthood is always about giving out of love, in the name of Christ, for the good of others.  (more…)

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Ministry in a Digital World

Ministry in a Digital World

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The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World:
New Media at the Service of the Word.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The theme of this year's World Communications Day - The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word - is meant to coincide with the Church's celebration of the Year for Priests. It focuses attention on the important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God. Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.
All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of his saving grace in the sacraments. Gathered and called by the Word, the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that God creates with all people, and every priest is called to build up this communion, in Christ and with Christ. Such is the lofty dignity and beauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special way to the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: "The Scripture says, 'No one who believes in him will be put to shame ... everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).
Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.
The spread of multimedia communications and its rich "menu of options" might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different "voices" provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.
Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a "soul" to the fabric of communications that makes up the "Web".
God's loving care for all people in Christ must be expressed in the digital world not simply as an artifact from the past, or a learned theory, but as something concrete, present and engaging. Our pastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show our contemporaries, especially the many people in our day who experience uncertainty and confusion, "that God is near; that in Christ we all belong to one another" (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2009).
Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today's world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future? Consecrated men and women working in the media have a special responsibility for opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters an integral human development. In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different "highways" that form "cyberspace", and show that God has his rightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).
In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in which the Church is called to exercise a "diaconia of culture" on today's "digital continent". With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, we must reaffirm the need to continue preparing ways that lead to the Word of God, while being at the same time constantly attentive to those who continue to seek; indeed, we should encourage their seeking as a first step of evangelization. A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space - like the "Court of the Gentiles" of the Temple of Jerusalem - for those who have not yet come to know God?
The development of the new technologies and the larger digital world represents a great resource for humanity as a whole and for every individual, and it can act as a stimulus to encounter and dialogue. But this development likewise represents a great opportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who came among us for our salvation. At the same time, priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.
To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" which the current media are opening up.
With this confidence, I invoke upon you the protection of the Mother of God and of the Holy Curè of Ars and, with affection, I impart to each of you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2010, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.

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Too Busy To Read the Catechism?

Too Busy To Read the Catechism?

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For this Year of Faith, Pope Benedict has encouraged us to study and reflect on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is an easy and free way to do it. Simply enter your email address and - starting October 11, 2012 - you'll start getting a little bit of the Catechism emailed to you every morning. Read that little bit every day and you'll read the whole catechism in a year.

Click here.

Awesomely powered by @CatechismAPI

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To be a priest in Scotland

To be a priest in Scotland

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I am always struck by how tentative the process of discussing vocations can be.  Some people feel quite awkward, perhaps they are wary of committing themselves and unsure about what they are really feeling. I am equally struck by how much support and encouragement applicants for the priesthood can get from one another as they realise that they are not alone and can share their thoughts with like minded individuals. Perhaps an individual is not ready to share his thoughts with other applicants. Some enquirers derive more from a quiet informal chat with their parish priest or with their diocesan vocations director.

To be a priest in Scotland today is “a life worth living” and a path worth taking. So give it some quiet thought. It can be a challenging life but it can also be a very rewarding life where you are able to make a difference in the lives of others. The invitation to “make disciples of all the nations” is a command to each one of us. Are you thinking about becoming a priest? This site offers information and resources to help you in your process of discernment.

Please feel free to browse the site and contact the Priests for Scotland office or your local Diocesan Vocations Director if you would like more information or the opportunity to discuss the Lord's call.

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Pope Benedict to the Scottish Bishops

Pope Benedict to the Scottish Bishops

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Dear Brother Bishops,

I extend a warm welcome to all of you on your ad Limina visit to Rome. I thank you for the kind words that Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien has addressed to me on your behalf, and I assure you of my constant prayers for you and for the faithful entrusted to your care. Your presence here expresses a reality that lies at the heart of every Catholic diocese – its relationship of communio with the See of Peter, and hence with the universal Church. Pastoral initiatives that take due account of this essential dimension bring authentic renewal: when the bonds of communion with the universal Church, and in particular with Rome, are accepted joyfully and lived fully, the people's faith can grow freely and yield a harvest of good works.

It is a happy coincidence that the Year for Priests, which the whole Church is currently celebrating, marks the four hundredth anniversary of the priestly ordination of the great Scottish martyr Saint John Ogilvie. Rightly venerated as a faithful servant of the Gospel, he was truly outstanding in his dedication to a difficult and dangerous pastoral ministry, to the point of laying down his life. Hold him up as an example for your priests today. I am glad to know of the emphasis you place on continuing formation for your clergy, especially through the initiative "Priests for Scotland". The witness of priests who are genuinely committed to prayer and joyful in their ministry bears fruit not only in the spiritual lives of the faithful, but also in new vocations. Remember, though, that your commendable initiatives to promote vocations must be accompanied by sustained catechesis among the faithful about the true meaning of priesthood. Emphasize the indispensable role of the priest in the Church's life, above all in providing the Eucharist by which the Church herself receives life. And encourage those entrusted with the formation of seminarians to do all they can to prepare a new generation of committed and zealous priests, well equipped humanly, academically and spiritually for the task of ministry in the twenty-first century.

Hand in hand with a proper appreciation of the priest's role is a correct understanding of the specific vocation of the laity. Sometimes a tendency to confuse lay apostolate with lay ministry has led to an inward-looking concept of their ecclesial role. Yet the Second Vatican Council's vision is that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation – in the family, at home, at work – they are actively participating in the Church's mission to sanctify the world. A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to clarify the roles of clergy and laity and so give a strong impetus to the task of evangelizing society.

That task requires a readiness to grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in your country. Support for euthanasia strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life. Recent developments in medical ethics and some of the practices advocated in the field of embryology give cause for great concern. If the Church's teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner. Pastors of the Church, therefore, must continually call the faithful to complete fidelity to the Church's Magisterium, while at the same time upholding and defending the Church's right to live freely in society according to her beliefs.

The Church offers the world a positive and inspiring vision of human life, the beauty of marriage and the joy of parenthood. It is rooted in God's infinite, transforming and ennobling love for all of us, which opens our eyes to recognize and love his image in our neighbour (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 10-11 et passim). Be sure to present this teaching in such a way that it is recognized for the message of hope that it is. All too often the Church's doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality, as we know, is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realization of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us.

The Church in your country, like many in Northern Europe, has suffered the tragedy of division. It is sobering to recall the great rupture with Scotland's Catholic past that occurred four hundred and fifty years ago. I give thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period, especially the sectarianism that has continued to rear its head even in recent times. Through your participation in Action of Churches Together in Scotland, see that the work of rebuilding unity among the followers of Christ is carried forward with constancy and commitment. While resisting any pressure to dilute the Christian message, set your sights on the goal of full, visible unity, for nothing less can respond to the will of Christ.

You can be proud of the contribution made by Scotland's Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities. Faith schools are a powerful force for social cohesion, and when the occasion arises, you do well to underline this point. As you encourage Catholic teachers in their work, place special emphasis on the quality and depth of religious education, so as to prepare an articulate and well-informed Catholic laity, able and willing to carry out its mission "by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God" (Christifideles Laici, 15). A strong Catholic presence in the media, local and national politics, the judiciary, the professions and the universities can only serve to enrich Scotland's national life, as people of faith bear witness to the truth, especially when that truth is called into question.

Later this year, I shall have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil. As you prepare for the Apostolic Visit, encourage your people to pray that it will be a time of grace for the whole Catholic community. Take the opportunity to deepen their faith and to rekindle their commitment to bear witness to the Gospel. Like the monks from Iona who spread the Christian message throughout the length and breadth of Scotland, let them be beacons of faith and holiness for the Scottish people today.

With these thoughts, I commend your apostolic labours to the intercession of Our Lady, Saint Andrew, Saint Margaret and all the saints of Scotland. To all of you, and to your clergy, religious and lay faithful I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Core Group

The Core Group

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Details on the Core Group

The Core Group of Priests for Scotland organises the work of the commission and provides oversight. Along with the National Director of Priests for Scotland the following are members of the Core Group.

Right Rev. Vincent Logan Bishop of Dunkeld

Rev. Paul Conroy

Rev. James MacNeill


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What Should I Expect From Seminary?

What Should I Expect From Seminary?

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'The broad aim of seminary formation is to provide a suitable context for vocational discernment and growth and to enable candidiates to become priests who are, "true shepherds of souls after the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, teacher, priest and shepherd". '

Norms for Priestly Formation~The Bishops' Conference of Scotland, 6.1

Seminary formation is organised around four principal areas of formation as laid out in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis ~ Human Formation, Spiritual Formation, Academic Formation and Pastoral Formation. The link below takes you to the 'Daily Life' section of the Pontifical Scots College website which details the content of these areas of formation further.



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First Steps

First Steps

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For most men who apply to become priests the attraction to ordained ministry will have been with them for some time. Perhaps they have been slow to reveal this thought to anyone else and have mulled it over quietly in their own mind...


So where do I start?  Well, the first step in exploring this feeling is to pray; listen to God’s Spirit in the depth of your heart.  There, in the quiet you will at the very least find the courage to take the next step.  You might, in fact, find a deeper sense of the call God has for you...

When you feel the time is right, you might wish to talk about your experience or your thoughts with your parish priest, or a priest you know, perhaps a spiritual director, or a chaplain you know from school, university or college.  They will guide you, help you talk out your thoughts - and perhaps your hesitations - and point you in the direction of your Diocesan Vocations Director (click for more).

The Diocesan Vocations Director will help you learn more about what a vocation to priesthood entails, how men are trained for diocesan priesthood, and will support you through a process of discerning just what is right for you, and how to proceed...

In some Dioceses, there may be opportunities offered to meet with like-minded men who are also thinking about priesthood as an option for them and discerning whether God might be calling them to serve him and the Church in this way.  Going along to these events or meetings doesn't mean you have to sign up, of course, but it can be a supportive way of exploring your thoughts and prayers with others going through the same process.
You may, of course, contact the Priest for Scotland office directly.

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Diocesan Vocations Directors

Diocesan Vocations Directors

With 0 Comments, Category: Discerning Priesthood, Featured, Preparing for Seminary, Vocations,

Each diocese in Scotland has a nominated priest whose role is to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood within each diocese.

In addition, the Diocesan Vocations Director is responsible for helping a potential candidate for priesthood discern their vocation, and, if both feel ready, when the time is right, to suggest that the candidate begin the formal process of application for studies for priesthood

Below are the contact details for the Diocesan Vocations Directors from around Scotland:

Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh

Rev. Michael John Galbraith
St James'
17 The Scores
KY16 9AR
01334 472856

Diocese of Aberdeen

Rev. Keith Herrera
Cathedral Clergy House
20 Huntly Street
AB10 1SH
01224 640 160

Diocese of Argyll and The Isles

Rev. John Paul MacKinnon
Star of the Sea
01871 810267

Diocese of Dunkeld

Father Mark Cassidy
St Mary's
41 High Street
Dundee DD2 3AP
01382 611282       Dunkeld Vocations Website

Diocese of Galloway

Rev. Martin Chambers
St. Matthew's
Grassyards Rd
New Farm Loch
01563 533587

Archdiocese of Glasgow
Rev. Ross Campbell
Turnbull Hall
15 Southpark Terrace
G12 8LG
0141 339 4315                  Archdiocese of Glasgow Vocations Facebook Page

Diocese of Motherwell

Rev. Brian Lamb
St Joseph's
Mayberry Place
South Lanarkshire
G72 9DA
01698 823896                   Motherwell Diocesan Website Vocations Page

Diocese of Paisley
Rev. John H. Morrison
St. Fergus'
35 Blackstoun Road
0141 261 0644            Diocese of Paisley Vocations Facebook Page

Read the Paisley Diocese Vocations Newsletter for 2016

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National Statement on Ongoing Formation

National Statement on Ongoing Formation

With 0 Comments, Category: Ongoing Formation,

The National Statement on Ongoing Formation can be downloaded from here.








“Permanent formation is a requirement of the priest’s own faithfulness to his ministry, to his very being. It is love for Jesus Christ and fidelity to oneself. But it is also an act of love for the People of God, at whose service the priest is placed.” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 70).

Having considered the matter at some length the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland believes that a commitment to Ongoing Formation needs to be clearly present in the lives and ministry of the priests of Scotland. Few people today would question that the environment in which a priest ministers has changed. Forty years ago many parishes were staffed by two, three or more priests. Today the priest often lives alone. Some priests have pastoral charge of two or more parishes. This increased workload may raise concerns that the pastoral ties that have traditionally supported priests with encouragement, offering them stability, sustainability and personal support, are at risk as priests offer themselves in the service of a much wider group of people. In this changing environment a commitment to Ongoing Formation is a necessary part of faithful ministry.

Ongoing Formation is not time off from the parish but a way of making ministry more faithful, more effective and more fruitful. There is always a natural tendency for priests to regard their professional Ongoing Formation as something personal and something not to be shared. However, experience has shown us the sometimes heavy price that we have to pay when priests work in isolation neither self regulating or regulated by their Ordinary.

In discussing a possible approach to Ongoing Formation it is worth noting that programmes, however well devised, do not constitute Ongoing Formation. Ongoing Formation is an attitude that must accompany pastoral service. Ministry should never be taken for granted or considered automatic.

The Content of Ongoing Formation

Initiatives in Ongoing Formation should seek to help the priest face new experience and cope with transition. Initiatives in Ongoing Formation should consider the following areas.

  • Ongoing Formation in the First Years of Ministry

The first years of priestly ministry are very important since they model practice and set a style of ministry. Newly ordained priests, like all priests, need to know in their own experience the “communitarian form” of ministry; that is that all ministry is a “collective work”. (PDV 17)

  • Ongoing Formation for Priests in Transition

Changes in appointment can have a high emotional cost and can be painful. There is the need for the priest to celebrate what has been achieved and to accept new challenges. Programmes in Ongoing Formation should support priests in transition.

  • Ongoing Formation on Becoming a Parish Priest

In assuming the role of Parish Priest the priest requires new skills particularly in the areas of communication and administration. These can be learned and should not be simply presumed.

  • Ongoing Formation After Some Years of Ministry.

As a result of his years of experience the priest at this stage of his journey can be tempted to think that he can manage on his own and that he needs no contact with anyone. Priests in this group, who form the majority of priests in Scotland, need to experience the continuing challenge of ministry.

  • Ongoing Formation and Older Priests

As a mark of gratitude for the part they continue to play in the life of the Church Pastores Dabo Vobis 77 suggests that programmes in Ongoing Formation should also make provision for older priests assuring them of the Church’s continuing care.


The National Statement on Ongoing Formation can be downloaded from here. National-Statement-OGF

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Follow in Faith

Follow in Faith

With 0 Comments, Category: Vocations Campaigns,

Throughout the Year of Faith, which begins this October, multi media stands will tour parishes promoting vocations and asking for prayers for vocations. Why no ask about it at your parish?







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Applying to Study for Priesthood in Scotland

Applying to Study for Priesthood in Scotland

With 0 Comments, Category: Preparing for Seminary,

What is the Process for Application to Seminary in Scotland?

The Process for Application to Seminary in Scotland (sometimes shortened to PASS) is based round a series of weekend retreats and scheduled meetings that begin the journey to seminary for applicants who wish to enter into priestly formation for priesthood in the dioceses of Scotland. There are at present three weekends in total, the emphasis of which throughout is prayer and discernment as the applicant is invited to consider the Lord’s call to service in his Church.  Normally, these will have been preceded by meetings with a Diocesan Vocations Director, who will assist an aspiring applicant in discerning whether or not the time is right to make a formal application and so begin the process.

How are these weekends arranged?

PASS weekends normally begin on a Friday evening around 6pm. The atmosphere at these weekends is normally one of recollected quiet since there is the need not only to spend time in prayer but also to allow God’s Spirit to be heard. The weekends are also about meeting like-minded individuals who are also thinking about a possible vocation to priesthood and are considering entering seminary. Thus, an important part of the weekends is the time spent socialising with fellow applicants. Applicants in the past have also been grateful for the opportunity to engage with a number of priests each of whom brings his own understanding and approach to priesthood. This is particularly the case with weekend four and it is hoped that as the process reaches its conclusion applicants will have a better understanding of themselves, of God, and of priestly ministry.

The weekends are arranged as detailed below. Each weekend involves some themed reflection, based on the key notions of getting to know God, getting to know oneself and getting to know the Church. There are discussion points, guided reflection offered by various serving priests, time for personal prayer and opportunities to meet on a one-to-one basis with Vocations Directors and others.

It is expected that all applicants attend all of these events, that they arrive in good time for all events and do not arrange to leave until the weekend is finished, (this is normally around 2pm on the Sunday afternoon). Applicants who might wish to attend these weekends must first make contact with their Diocesan Vocations Director (click here for more) who will decide whether to invite the applicant to take part in the process.

Who else is involved?

Along with your Diocesan Vocations Director you will normally be assigned a Spiritual Director. Both of these have a very specific role within the Seminary Application process. Your Diocesan Vocations Director should be your first contact regarding your progress through the application process. Your Vocations Director should be available to help you with the whole process, including the application form, the various elements of paperwork that need to be gathered (e.g. Baptismal certificates, references, PVG certificates, etc) and the tasks that need to be carried out. Your Spiritual Director has a different focus since the core of your discussion with your Spiritual Direction is your relationship with God. Matters shared with your Spiritual Director remain within that forum and the Spiritual Director has no other involvement within the application process.

During the second of the weekends, there will be time allocated to meet with an interview panel.  This is not a group who will decide whether or not you will be accepted for seminary (that decision is rightfully your bishop's decision to take), but rather will help to explore deeper how you are placed to enter into the various aspects of priestly formation - encompassing the spiritual, human, intellectual and pastoral dimensions the Church lays out. The interview group will present a report to your bishop to help him in his decision, along with your referees and Vocations Director, and to help you reflect on those areas which might require more focus once you move into the Seminary and priestly formation itself.

The Director of Priests for Scotland is responsible for having a general oversight of the process. He is responsible for presenting each bishop with a recommendation, based on what has been gleaned through the Process, regarding the suitability of an applicant to begin training to become a diocesan priest. The Process is, therefore, centred on the individual applicant but must also be mindful of the Church’s need for able priests. In other words, it is not only the applicant who is discerning whether or not he has a call to be a priest: the Church also has to assist in validating whether that vocation is authentic, properly motivated and freely chosen, and whether the individual has the potential to be able to serve the wider Church community as a priest.

So, if I think I might be called to be a priest, when do I start?

The whole Process, from discernment to entry into seminary runs from early in the year until December; the formal Application Process itself, with the associated weekend encounters, runs from September to December. Its purpose is to assist prospective candidates in discerning their future and to prepare them, after suitable assessment, for entry into the seminary process.  Anyone thinking about applying should do so some time before the summer, to allow time for those early discussions to take place, and for the Diocesan Vocations Director to be able to advise on the best way forward, including entering the Application Process.

On successfully completing the Application Process in the autumn months, and being accepted for seminary formation (normally towards the end of the year), applicants will head to the Royal Scots College in Salamanca, Spain, to begin their seminary formation with a "propaedeutic", or "Initial Seminary Formation" course which runs from January to June each year. Thereafter, the Bishop will decide where the training should take place - normally at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, but sometimes in other seminaries, perhaps in Rome or in England.
Further details can be obtained from the Diocesan Director of Priestly Vocations.

Each weekend begins with arrivals at 6.00pm. Applicants should speak to their Diocesan Director of Priestly Vocations before attending.

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