2020 has proven to be a very strange year for all of us, from lockdowns to closed schools, to cancelled holidays and working from home. We have been forced to reconsider some of our priorities and to think about what is truly important for us, to consider in a new way what it means to be community, to be family, to be parish. For many, the months of shielding and isolation were very painful and many families faced the heart-ache of separation from elderly relatives, or from their children and grandchildren. The need to reach out and care for others - or simply to think of others when we make our own choices - has never been more important.
Parishes too have had to re-invent things we all used to take for granted: prayer together, the celebration of Sacraments, our Sunday Mass. Many priests have become very creative in their use of online resources, live streaming, Youtube and parish websites for communicating the Gospel, gathering people in prayer and keeping in touch with those who are most isolated. In many ways, it has never been a more tiring, challenging, painful, exciting, collaborative, creative time to be a priest!
This year's Vocations Awareness Week, therefore, draws directly on the teaching of Jesus for its theme. We look at the very basic tools he used to share the message of God's Kingdom: Parables.
In particular, we reflect on parables of discovery (such as the treasure in the field, the coin lost and found) and of faithfulness (such as the parable of the dishonest servant). In these words of Jesus, we realise our vocation, our call: to discover what God has planted deep within us for our happiness and joy, and to respond to it, to cherish it, and to live faithfully by it.
For some, that "treasure" is the gift of a call to serve the People of God and his world as a priest, a deacon or in religious life. For all of us, it is a call to serve God and each other with love, with generosity and with compassion. These are things whose value we have rediscovered this year in all sorts of ways.
For Vocations Awareness Week 2020, therefore, "Priests for Scotland" invite young people in our schools or parish youth groups to reflect on the parables of Jesus. We invite them to reflect on the gift and the joy God has planted within each of us, to discover the best of ourselves as God planned ir for us: to reflect on what it takes to be the kind of person God wants me to be, and how, for some, that might mean thinking about a vocation to priesthood or religious life of some kind.
The materials below are designed for school use (s1-s4) but are equally suitable for parish or youth group activities. (The s4 material is useful also for slightly older teens). Each contains a PowerPoint presentation (both in PowerPoint and .pdf formats) for the various age-groups/stages which you might want to download.