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Vocations in Southwark Diocese

“The harvest is rich but the labourers are few.”

Some priests speak of knowing from infancy that God was calling them to the priesthood, but for me it was more a case of slowly responding to what had, in youth, been only a vague notion. I first had the idea of the possibility of becoming a priest in my early teens, having been blessed to grow up in a Catholic family with the example of good parish priests. Later, however, I drifted in my feelings about priesthood - and indeed my Catholic faith generally - and it was not until I reached Oxford that I began to attend vocation discernment events organised by our zealous university chaplain.

Ordination-anointing
Image © Marcin Mazur

And yet still I was not sure. With hindsight I was looking for certainty, perhaps some cast-iron proof that this was the path that God was calling me to follow, before I was willing to take a risk. I wanted a degree of confidence that I now realise can only come from taking the plunge, embracing that which prayer suggests the Lord is asking of you. I spent time teaching in England and South America, pursued graduate studies, and considered other possible careers before I finally accepted what I would discover had been evident to others long before it was to me. Nothing else would bring me the fulfilment and joy which are to be found in answering the call, in surrendering oneself to God’s service in the sacred priesthood.

From the day I entered seminary to the day I write these words, I have not regretted pursuing this path. The journey is not always straightforward; seminary formation has its times of trial, and parish life can be demanding. But if you suspect that the Lord who loves you and who knows you - better than you love and know yourself - is calling you to labour for His harvest, how can you refuse?

Fr Francis Murphy
Ordained Priest 2019


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