Fr Chris’ story

‘I have learned over the years that the vocation pathway for everyone is different; it is not one size fitting all.’

Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Rev Canon Christopher P Thomas

‘I have learned over the years that the vocation pathway for everyone is different; it is not one size fitting all.’

I was brought up as an Anglican in the Church in Wales and so the Christian life was something that was part and parcel of our family life, but not hugely central to it. But I used to go to church each Sunday and was an altar server and played my part in the life of the parish.

When I was at University in Nottingham, I began to read the Catholic Catechism which had just been published and, coupled with the good preaching I heard at St Barnabas Cathedral, I began to explore the Catholic faith with the chaplain at the University, Fr Philip O’Dowd. Philip was very challenging in terms of not simply accepting the faith but questioning it, exploring its riches and challenges and going deeper into its meaning and consequences for life. He also had a wonderful ability to link the faith to art and music and travel, something for which I will always be grateful.

I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Chaplaincy Mass in Advent 1993; it was a wonderful moment in my life as I had been supported on my journey by the members of the Catholic Community at the University. I continued to have fruitful discussions with Philip about our faith and over time, I began to discern the small seeds of the priestly vocation.

What I realised more than anything was that the voices of others could often see things in me that I couldn’t see in myself. Memories of past conversations took on a new significance, and my friends and colleagues noted things about me that I had never thought of before. I am not special, nor was I a devoutly spiritual person, but the regularity of daily prayerful reading of the scriptures and Mass began to nourish those seeds that had been planted many years ago.

I embarked upon the vocations’ discernment programme in the Diocese and was sent to study for the priesthood at the Venerable English College in September 1995. I enjoyed living in Rome and discovering the riches of living in another country alongside the studies and common life that the seminary offers. I was ordained a priest by Bishop McMahon in July 2001.

One of the most important things I have learned over the years is that the vocation pathway for everyone is different; it is not one size fitting all. The common theme is that all should lead to a deep relationship with the Lord, who is the source and goal of all we do as disciples. If we start doing things for ourselves, we have left the pathway. But when we give of ourselves to the Lord, we gain a rich panorama of the world around us.

The other thing is that a priest brings the Lord to people and leads the people to the Lord. All priests must have a deep concern for the people of God and a desire to be a fellow pilgrim with them on the journey through life, giving example to them in the spiritual life and being a good teacher of the faith which we have received as a gift from the Church. Underpinning all of this is a devotion to the Mass, regular confession and the daily life of prayer. Hopefully through using these spiritual gifts of the Church, all of us will discover the distinct vocation that God has called us to fulfil.

Read more

Latest news from


See all