Cultivating a Culture of Vocation

An interview with Diocesan Director of Vocations, Fr Neil Peoples, on Good Shepherd Sunday.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

On the 4th Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrates the ‘World Day of Prayer for Vocations’ also known as ‘Vocations Sunday’ or ‘Good Shepherd Sunday.’ It has a particular focus on praying for vocations to ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate) and consecrated life.

This year, the Holy Father’s message focuses on being ‘Called to Build the Human Family. He invites the Church to pray ‘that the People of God, amid the dramatic events of history, may increasingly respond to this call [from the Lord].’  

We took some time to speak to Fr Neil Peoples, the Director of Vocations for Nottingham Diocese, about his work and mission in this role. He is supported in this work by Fr Liam Carpenter, Assistant Vocations Director.

What did you set out to do, when appointed to Vocations Director last year?

We took over diocesan vocations work at the tail end of the more restrictive pandemic measures, such as lockdowns. Whilst lots of good vocations work has happened online during the pandemic, nothing quite beats being able to meet in person.  

We planned two strands to our work: discernment evenings and young adults evenings.

The discernment evenings focused on vocations to the priesthood and were held monthly at the diocesan House of Discernment in St Ann’s Nottingham. They were offered as an opportunity for men thinking about the priesthood to gather, to pray, to share fellowship with like-minded men and accompanied by us as Vocations Directors and other guests who gave input on the evenings.  

The young adults’ evenings focused on the universal call to holiness. These monthly gatherings filled a gap ‘post-18’ young adult gap and need in the diocese, for those not engaged with their university chaplaincy. The gatherings, at St Barnabas Cathedral, brought together 18–35-year-olds for adoration, confession, testimony and fellowship. We hoped this would help young people respond to the call to be saints and if any were then interested in Priesthood or Religious Life, this would be a bonus! We’ve had around 30-40 gathering each month at the Cathedral and we are just beginning to launch a similar venture in Derby.  

An important element of both strands of this work is letting young people know that they are not alone in trying to live their faith and discern God’s will for their lives.  

What has been a highlight of the last year for you?  

The highlight for me has been to meet with those discerning a vocation, to see how God continues to call people and to journey with them as they further discern this call. It has also been a chance to reflect on my own vocation as I hear the experiences of those I have been called to journey with.  

Over the next term you are hosting a number of ‘Vocations Masses’, what are these all about?

We ‘borrowed’ this idea from the Diocese of Motherwell and we will be celebrating Masses around the diocese to pray for Vocations. The aim of these ‘Vocation Masses’ is simply to:

Encourage people to pray for Vocations to the Priesthood, Diaconate and Religious Life

To show people who are considering a vocation, that the people of God are praying for them and supporting them.

To offer a chance for people to chat with the Vocations Directors and other priests, deacons and religious about vocations in their local area.  

Our hope is that next year, we will be able to have a ‘Vocations’ Mass every month, in different parishes across the diocese.

What are your hopes and plans for the coming year as Vocations Director?  

I have a few! I hope that we will see some men apply to enter seminary. I would like to see other young adults groups established around the diocese and to hopefully bring a group to World Youth Day Lisbon, in August 2023. We hope to create some video content on vocations and also to host an event for all of our schools around the time of ‘Good Shepherd Sunday.’ This is all very much work in progress and we ask for your prayers and support!

What would you say to someone considering a vocation to the Priesthood or Religious Life?  

Don’t be afraid to listen to that voice you hear calling you. Find time to spend with God in quiet prayer, reflecting on the feelings that you have about vocation. Put your trust in God, knowing that he will lead you down the right path and wherever that path takes you, it will be a unique adventure and the journey of a life time.  

Find contact details for Fr Neil and Fr Liam

National Office of Vocation  

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