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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, April 20, 2012
The Beginning and the End

A few years ago I was asked to be on the committee of the Diocese’s Sick and Retired Clergy Fund. And before you get too excited, I regret to inform that I am neither sick nor planning to retire…just yet. One of the interesting statistics is that within the next ten years, over 50% of our clergy will be of retirement age which for a priest is 75. It is quite a daunting task to prepare practically and financially for an aging population of priests.

At the other end of the chain, we have 33 students preparing for the priesthood. Given that it takes 6 years to train a priest, if you look at the number of priests we have, the number retiring far exceeds the numbers being ordained. As a result there is obviously a great need for us to pray for vocations and to encourage them in our parish community and especially among our families. Indeed, my mum loved a phrase she once saw on a vocations poster – “Your priest is somebody else’s son. Could your son be somebody else’s priest?” As you know, we have been blessed with a seminarian from our own parish, Tony Thomas, and whenever I see him at Allen Hall he seems extremely happy.

However, to paraphrase St James, we can’t be people of faith without good and practical works so I need to mention the nuts and bolts. Yes, while a seminary refers to a seed bed where priests are “grown”, they don’t grow for nothing: it costs £50 per day to keep a seminarian so each year of training costs £18,000. That means a total of just under £110,000 from being selected as a student to ordination to the priesthood. 12 students began in the first year in September which means it will cost £1.2 million for those men to end up as your priests. The figures are really quite staggering but remind us that the success of our prayers has a price!
Therefore I ask you to be generous next week in the annual collection for the Priest Training Fund. Please take home a donation envelope and return it with your contribution next weekend or at any time. If you are a taxpayer please complete the Gift Aid section of the envelope. You can also make a donation online by visiting

Blessed John Paul II once said, “When the spirit of adventure and great love dies, there will be no more priests.” That spirit is very much alive in many young men like Tony and by giving generously to this fund we can make a significant contribution to nurturing that generosity of heart and providing priests for the future. Pope Benedict said recently in a message for Vocations Sunday that when “the one who is called voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the Divine Master…a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord who calls and the freedom of the one who responds in love.” It is the deepest desire in our hearts to find where that encounter lies and over the next couple of weeks we focus on those who think they have found it in becoming a priest. As Blessed John Paul II wrote of priesthood, “One of its privileges is helping each baptised person to discover the dream for them which is found in God’s heart.” Please, support them with your prayers and financially so that they can help you discover that dream in the future.
Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:43 am