Parish Alive Leadership Webinar

To All Priests and PPC Chairs

You are invited to attended a PARISH ALIVE LEADERSHIP WEBINAR – Leadership: Building and Leading Teams hosted by Parish Alive in cooperation with Divine Renovation.

PLEASE SEE POSTER below.

It will take place on Thursday, 11 April on ZOOM at 7:00 – 8:30 pm.

The topic is an important one that will cover how to build and manage teams once we have the portfolio coordinators in place. We are also delighted to welcome a guest speaker from the USA, Ryan Coyne who is a Leadership Coach with Divine Renovation.

The agenda allows for group discussions and also Q&A time. Please join us for what will surely be a worthwhile and interesting session.

REGISTER

It is important that everyone registers for the event. Please Register on the below link or contact Nick Bickell on 083 261 7181 or bickell@iafrica.com
REGISTER HERE: https://forms.gle/6qguu9Lt24eaD26y9

ZOOM MEETING DETAILS

Join Zoom Meeting Link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82932563843?pwd=cUhvNlN1dW1UbjRNd3paKzJ2TWNVdz09
Meeting ID: 829 3256 3843 / Passcode: 953723

ABOUT GUEST SPEAKER

Ryan Coyne, Leadership Coach, Divine Renovation

Ryan has worked in parish ministry since 2015. He is currently a Leadership Coach at Divine Renovation where he and his team coach priests from across the world, develop content and mentor new coaches.

He holds a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology from Saint Vincent College. Ryan lives in Western Pennsylvania with his wife Allexsi and two sons, where he enjoys serving on the Pastoral Council at his home parish, Our Mother of Sorrows, in Johnstown.

He enjoys hiking and biking with his family and cheering on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ryan is also a member of his local Fire Department.

Ceasefire NOW petition

Dear colleagues and friends,

Now that the season of Advent is approaching, we are keenly aware of the pain arising from the senseless war in the Holy Land, where Jesus was born. Simultaneously, we aspire to embody true Hope and express solidarity with conflicts worldwide, particularly those in the Holy Land today.

In the spirit of compassion and solidarity that defines Caritas Internationalis, I extend to you an urgent and heartfelt invitation to join a global effort advocating for an immediate ceasefire in the Holy Land. This initiative, led by Ceasefire Now, calls upon individuals and organisations to lend their voices to a cause that transcends borders and demands our collective attention now by signing a global petition.

In fact, today marks the end of the Ceasefire, prompting us to invite the entire Confederation to unite through this symbolic action and sign the #CeasefireNOW petition. This petition has already garnered support from Caritas Jerusalem, Caritas MONA, and Caritas Internationalis, as well as 788 organisations from over 80 countries and more than 980,000 individuals. Its purpose is to amplify the global call for an immediate ceasefire, aiming to protect and save lives.

The goal of this petition is to mobilise 2.2 million people globally, equivalent to the population of Palestinians living in Gaza. The petition urges all world leaders, the UN Security Council and actors on the ground to take action now to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

Caritas Internationalis warmly invites all of you to join the #CeasefireNOW petition and help us reach 2.2 million signatures by:

Please find the translated versions of the open letter in EnglishFrenchGermanJapaneseItalianArabicTurkish and Hebrew.   

As we approach the season of Advent, we hold onto hope, accompanying those who suffer globally, and particularly standing in solidarity with our colleagues in Caritas Jerusalem and Caritas MONA today.

Warm regards,

Alistair Dutton
Secretary General of Caritas InternationalisPalazzo
San CalistoV-00120
Vatican City
Email: Dutton@Caritas.va
Mobile:  +44 7795 176702Website: www.caritas.org
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Synod Synthesis Report

Below please find the Letter of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God, and the Synod Synthesis Report: A Synodal Church in Mission.

Dear sisters, dear brothers,

As the proceedings of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops draw to a close, we want to thank God with all of you for the beautiful and enriching experience we have lived. We lived this blessed time in profound communion with all of you. We were supported by your prayers, bearing with you your expectations, your questions, as well as your fears. As Pope Francis requested two years ago, a long process of listening and discernment was initiated, open to all the People of God, no one being excluded, to “journey together” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, missionary disciples engaged in the following of Jesus Christ.

The session in which we have been gathered in Rome since 30 September is an important phase of this process. In many ways it has been an unprecedented experience. For the first time, at Pope Francis’ invitation, men and women have been invited, in virtue of their baptism, to sit at the same table to take part, not only in the discussions, but also in the voting process of this Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Together, in the complementarity of our vocations, our charisms and our ministries, we have listened intensely to the Word of God and the experience of others. Using the conversation in the Spirit method, we have humbly shared the wealth and poverty of our communities from every continent, seeking to discern what the Holy Spirit wants to say to the Church today. We have thus also experienced the importance of fostering mutual exchanges between the Latin tradition and the traditions of Eastern Christianity. The participation of fraternal delegates from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities deeply enriched our discussions.

Our assembly took place in the context of a world in crisis, whose wounds and scandalous inequalities resonated painfully in our hearts, infusing our work with a particular gravity, especially since some of us come from countries where war rages. We prayed for the victims of deadly violence, without forgetting all those who have been forced by misery and corruption to take the dangerous road of migration. We assured our solidarity and commitment alongside the women and men all over the world who are working to build justice and peace.

At the invitation of the Holy Father, we made significant room for silence to foster mutual listening and a desire for communion in the Spirit among us. During the opening ecumenical vigil, we experienced how the thirst for unity increases in the silent contemplation of the crucified Christ. In fact, the cross is the only cathedra of the One who, having given himself for the salvation of the world, entrusted His disciples to His Father, so that “they may all be one” (John 17:21). Firmly united in the hope brought by His Resurrection, we entrusted to Him our common home where the cries of the earth and the poor are becoming increasingly urgent: “Laudate Deum!” (“Praise God!”), as Pope Francis reminded us at the beginning of our work.

Day by day, we felt the pressing call to pastoral and missionary conversion. For the Church’s vocation is to proclaim the Gospel not by focusing on itself, but by placing itself at the service of the infinite love with which God loved the world (cf. John 3:16). When homeless people near St. Peter’s Square were asked about their expectations regarding the Church on the occasion of this synod, they replied: “Love!”. This love must always remain the ardent heart of the Church, a Trinitarian and Eucharistic love, as the Pope recalled on October 15, midway through our assembly, invoking the message of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. It is “trust” that gives us the audacity and inner freedom that we experienced, not hesitating to freely and humbly express our convergences, differences, desires and questions.

And now? We hope that the months leading to the second session in October 2024 will allow everyone to concretely participate in the dynamism of missionary communion indicated by the word “synod”. This is not about ideology, but about an experience rooted in the apostolic tradition. As the Pope reminded us at the beginning of this process, “communion and mission can risk remaining somewhat abstract, unless we cultivate an ecclesial praxis that expresses the concreteness of synodality (…) encouraging real involvement on the part of each and all” (October 9, 2021). There are multiple challenges and numerous questions: the synthesis report of the first session will specify the points of agreement we have reached, highlight the open questions, and indicate how our work will proceed.

To progress in its discernment, the Church absolutely needs to listen to everyone, starting with the poorest. This requires a path of conversion on its part, which is also a path of praise: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Luke 10:21)! It means listening to those who have been denied the right to speak in society or who feel excluded, even by the Church; listening to people who are victims of racism in all its forms – in particular in some regions to indigenous peoples whose cultures have been scorned. Above all, the Church of our time has the duty to listen, in a spirit of conversion, to those who have been victims of abuse committed by members of the ecclesial body, and to commit herself concretely and structurally to ensuring that this does not happen again.

The Church also needs to listen to the laity, women and men, all called to holiness by virtue of their baptismal vocation: to the testimony of catechists, who in many situations are the first proclaimers of the Gospel; to the simplicity and vivacity of children, the enthusiasm of youth, to their questions, and their pleas; to the dreams, the wisdom and the memory of elderly people. The Church needs to listen to families, to their educational concerns, to the Christian witness they offer in today’s world. She needs to welcome the voice of those who want to be involved in lay ministries and to participate in discernment and decision-making structures.

To progress further in synodal discernment, the Church particularly needs to gather even more the words and experience of the ordained ministers: priests, the primary collaborators of the bishops, whose sacramental ministry is indispensable for the life of the whole body; deacons, who, through their ministry, signify the care of the entire Church for the most vulnerable. She also needs to let herself be questioned by the prophetic voice of consecrated life, the watchful sentinel of the Spirit’s call. She also needs to be attentive to all those who do not share her faith but are seeking the truth, and in whom the Spirit, who “offers everyone the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery” (Gaudium et Spes 22, 5), is also present and operative.

“The world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission. It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium” (Pope Francis, October 17, 2015). We do not need to be afraid to respond to this call. Mary, the first on the journey, accompanies our pilgrimage. In joy and in sorrow, she shows us her Son and invites us to trust. And He, Jesus, is our only hope!

Vatican City, October 25, 2023

SACC Statement on the situation in the Holy Land

26 October 2023
Statement
From the desk of the General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana  

REFLECTIONS ON GAZA: FEAR, INSECURITY AND REPRESSION IS NO RECIPE FOR LASTING PEACE

The weeks following the incident of 7 October 2023 in Israel have magnified the daily experience of Palestinians in Gaza and Israel. The brutality of the Hamas attack on Israeli families, women and children in the kibbutzim is rightly to be condemned with the same vehemence with which we condemn all brutal attacks on defenceless people anywhere in the world. In the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres, “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians – or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.” The Hamas incursions resulted in no less than 1 400 Israeli deaths, and between 200 and 250 persons abducted and held hostage. 

In response the Netanyahu government of Israel went on a war footing, established a war cabinet of national unity, and mounted an incessant barrage of bombardments that would reduce Gaza City to a rubble, with over 6 000 Palestinians killed with about half of the dead being children. Several thousands have been displaced or fled for safer locations.  

What we now have is beyond the rage over the brutal Hamas attacks, it has become a systematic assault on the Palestinian people, almost as though their crime is being Palestinian. The continued indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, which has been described as a concentration camp, destroys lives, sometimes wiping out three generations of one family at one go, such as in the case of journalist Wael Dahdough whose wife, son and seven year old daughter were killed, with other family members still unaccounted for. No place is safe: schools, hospitals and even churches are targeted with impunity. The bombing of the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City adds to the senselessness of these bombardments. This is happening in the glare of the international community which seems to give tacit support to Israel to commit such atrocities with no moral outrage.  

The huge and growing number of the dead should touch every heart of flesh in the world! With thousands more in hospitals with dwindling capacity to cope, and surgical operations conducted raw with no anaesthetics or pain killers, it is heart-wrenching. There has been the cutting off of water, electricity and fuel, rendering emergency services an uphill struggle. In the West Bank the settlers are reportedly going on shooting sprees that have killed over 90 Palestinians in the last couple of weeks.  

We are alarmed at the moral bankruptcy demonstrated by Western powers in the unqualified support of Israel, a “blank cheque” given in the name of Israeli self-defence. These incessant bombardments are not self-defence by an occupying power with the most sophisticated defence force in the Middle East and one of the tops in the world. It can only be truly described in the words of “collective punishment” used by the UN Secretary General António Guterres saying, “The horrendous attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of those in Gaza through Israel’s bombing campaign.”  

This at best, is short-sighted, but largely it is a dangerous game that promotes warmongering that will engulf the whole region and potentially the whole world. It is an invitation for proxy street battles between sympathisers of Israel and Palestine in different parts of the world where there is no Israeli Defence Force (IDF) to bombard anyone – a recipe for disaster! 

The Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem and other Christian churches in the Holy Land responded with a “solemn observance of fasting and prayer for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the harrowing conflict”. The SACC echoes the statement of the church in Jerusalem saying, “The devastation witnessed, coupled with the sacrilegious targeting of the church strikes at the very core of human decency.” They said that, “This is deserving international condemnation and retribution,” calling on the international community – us all, “To fulfil its duty in protecting civilians and ensuring that such horrific acts are not replicated.”   The present pain has its source in two realities that have to find satisfaction if lasting peace is to be achieved. The one is the Israeli insecurity in the face of the demand by some, including Hamas, for the State of Israel to cease to exist. They and their Western allies believe that the answer is to constrain and suppress militarily, the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own sovereign State.  

The other side of the coin is the reality that Palestinians have been living in a state of oppression since 1948, and this intensified after 1967. The general Palestinian situation is a breeding environment for anti-Israeli attitudes.  Considering the extremely oppressive conditions under which the Palestinian people must live, there is therefore no question about the justness of the Palestinian cause. 

The collective punishment of Gaza and the killings in the West Bank cannot and will not secure peace and security for Israel; what will, is a return to peace negotiations and the establishment of meaningful protocols for justice, security, peace and dignity for all the people of the Holy Land – Palestinian and Israeli.   

The leaders of the people of Israel and Palestine must be principled enough to lead their people in search of justice, peace and security; where they can agree to set aside their differences and find each other in a shared future of mutual freedom, dignity and security.  

The planned ground force invasion by the IDF to eliminate Hamas is both dangerous and ultimately unhelpful, as it gives permission to Israel to commit atrocities under the cover of defending itself. The call to annihilate Hamas at all costs may even be interpreted as a rallying call to various forces in the region to also mobilise for an expanded war.  

We support the refusal of Egypt to open for Gaza to be depopulated into their country with no right of return as is the case with the people who were driven into permanent refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria in 1948 and 1967; thus, making way for the Gaza land to be taken up with new Israeli settlements. Instead, we call for an immediate ceasefire, the cessation of both the Gaza bombardments and the Hamas rocket launches, and the recommitment to serious peace negotiations for lasting peace.  

We welcome the release of the two pairs of Israeli hostages, for which we thank Qatar’s involvement.  We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the other hostages.  We join and echo the appeal by church leaders in Palestine: “First of all to pray for our mission here, as well for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa. 122:6). 

Secondly, advocate with your representatives (and governments) for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, so that all who dwell within these lands can live in security.  We join the global call for the opening of safe corridors that make it possible for massive humanitarian support to reach the people of Gaza, who are desperate – for lack of water, food, and electricity – and who live in the expectation of death from the aerial bombardments that define their daily life.

Finally, if you are able, support our ministries in Gaza, Palestine & Israel, and throughout the Diocese of Jerusalem by contributing financially through one of our international partners.”

We offer for the consideration of South Africans the following organisations through whom to make donations:

UN Population Fund (UNFPA) https://www.unfpa.org/donate/Gaza. Pregnant women and newborns are among the most vulnerable.
UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the relief and humanitarian  organisation for refugees.UN World Food Program (WFP) for emergency food supplies https://www.wfp.org
Gift of the Givers https://giftofthegivers.org/disaster-response/palestine-relief/26909/

Freedom, justice and peace are indivisible concepts. What is just for one people should be just also for the other people. What is unjust for the one is unjust also for the other. The measure of freedom and liberty for one should be the same measure of freedom and liberty for the other. Fear, insecurity and military repression is no recipe for lasting peace. There should be no compromise on the fundamental demand for a just peace with dignity and security for both Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians — peace, lasting peace with security for all. 

The statement of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem has an encouraging citation from scripture: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). With them we pray for the unwavering spirit in the face of extreme adversity.   

– – –ENDS – – – 

SACC Media enquiries and memorial service attendance:
Khuthalani KhumaloSACC
Communications Consultant 
South African Council of Churches
Tel: 084 074 1285 | Email: khuthalani@khuthalani.net

About SACC
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) is an ecumenical association of affiliated Christian Churches, and blocks of churches such as The Evangelical Alliance and the Council of African Independent Churches, and the International Federation of Christian Churches, with a mandate to lead common Christian action that works for moral witness in South Africa. SACC does not exist for the propagation and the advancement of its doctrinal position, but is the place where our diverse interpretations of our faith come together in action for social justice. It therefore seeks to achieve a visible, just socio-economic and ecological impact, enabled through engaged churches-in-community for a reconciled South Africa and our sub-continent.

Copyright © 2023 South African Council of Churches, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
South African Council of Churches
Khotso House
62 Marshall Street
Johannesburg, Gauteng 
2001South Africa

Most Blessed of all Women

Bishop Sylvester David reflects on Our Lady in the most recent edition of the ARCHDIOCESAN NEWS. You can ready other articles HERE.

August was the month when we celebrated the gift of womanhood, so I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the most blessed of all women (cf. Lk 1:42). I will appeal to Scripture and will also present an extensive quote from my confrere Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI.

Why do we nurture devotion to Our Lady? Why do we consecrate ourselves and our missionary endeavours to her at least once every year? There are many reasons. The first is that the mother of the high priest is also the mother of every priest whether by virtue of ordination of by virtue of baptism. All of us engage in the priestly prayer of the Church. Our association with Mary is thus inescapable.

Scripturally, she has been given to us as our mother. “Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said ‘this is your mother’. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27). In this passage she is presented to the “disciple whom he loved”. Who is this disciple? In the text he is unnamed. He could stand for any disciple – he could stand for you and I. We too are disciples whom Jesus loves. The question then is: Have I taken her home? Do I converse with her, confide in her, and learn from her? The last time she speaks in the Gospel of John is at the wedding in Cana where she says: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). That is simply the best advice anyone could give to us.

We read in John’s Gospel that Mary stands beneath the cross. She did not collapse, she did not protest – she merely stood her ground. In spite of the interruption of death she did not give up. In spite of personal hurt – she stood by her commitment. If Mary had to go through the difficulties we have to undergo in the home, at work, in our relationships, what would her response be? Ron Rolheiser OMI describes Mary’s stance at the cross as follows:

“In essence, what Mary was doing under the cross was this: She couldn’t stop the crucifixion (there are times when darkness has its hour) but she could stop some of the hatred, bitterness, jealousy, heartlessness, and anger that caused it and surrounded it. And she helped stop bitterness by refusing to give it back in kind, by transforming rather than transmitting it, by swallowing hard and (literally) eating bitterness rather than giving it back, as everyone else was doing.

Had Mary, in moral outrage, begun to scream hysterically, shout angrily at those crucifying Jesus, or physically tried to attack someone as he was driving the nails into Jesus’ hands, she would have been caught up in the same kind of energy as everyone else, replicating the very anger and bitterness that caused the crucifixion to begin with. What Mary was doing under the cross, her silence and seeming unwillingness to protest notwithstanding, was radiating all that is antithetical to the crucifixion: gentleness, understanding, forgiveness, peace, light.

And that’s not easy to do. Everything inside us demands justice, screams for it, and refuses to remain silent in the presence of injustice. That’s a healthy instinct and sometimes acting on it is good. We need, at times, to protest, to shout, to literally throw ourselves into the face of injustice and do everything in our power to stop the crucifixion.

But there are times too when things have gone so far that shouts and protests are no longer helpful, darkness is going to have its hour come what may and all we can do is to stand under the cross and help eat its bitterness by refusing to participate in its energy. In those situations, like Mary, we have to say: “I can’t stop this crucifixion, but I can stop some of the hatred, bitterness, jealousy, brute-heartlessness, and darkness that surround it. I can’t stop this, but I will not conduct its hatred.”

And that’s not the same thing as despair. Our muted helplessness is not a passive resignation but the opposite. It’s a movement towards the only rays of light, love, and faith that still exist in that darkness and hatred. And, at that moment, it’s the only thing that faith and love can do.

As the Book of Lamentations says, there are times when the best we can do is “put our mouths to the dust and wait!” Sometimes too, as Rainer Maria Rilke says, the only helpful thing is to absorb the heaviness: “Do not be afraid to suffer, give the heaviness back to the weight of the earth; mountains are heavy, seas are heavy.”
That’s not passivity, resignation, or weakness; it’s genuine, rare strength. It’s “standing under the cross” so as to help take away some of its hatred, chaos, bitterness, and violence.

So this is the image: Sometimes darkness has its hour and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Sometimes the blind, wounded forces of jealousy, bitterness, violence, and sin cannot, for that moment, be stopped. But, like Mary under the cross, we are asked to “stand” under them, not in passivity and weakness, but in strength, knowing that we can’t stop the crucifixion but we can help stop some of the hatred, anger, and bitterness that surrounds it.”

To conclude then: What would Mary have felt when she attended the Eucharist in the community in which she lived (tradition tells us that it was a Johannine Community)? What would she have felt when she heard the words: “Do this in memory of me” – or, “whenever you do this remember me”? What would her maternal heart have pondered? I think she would have thought: “Remember him? How could I ever forget him?” And that is what it is all about – Mary’s unforgettable son.

Reflection:
What is the state of my Marian devotion?
What does Mary teach us about standing by our commitment? Remember she stood under the cross.
In the Gospel of Luke, in the first two chapters four times prayer words are applied to Mary and each time the word means a profound silence before the Divine. Can I make that practice my own so as to deepen my intimacy with God?
A good way to know Jesus is to look at him through the eyes of Mary. Can I find time to meditate in this fashion? For example, when coming across someone in her community who was sick, surely she would have recalled what her son did. When seeing a pregnant woman surely she would have recalled the time she carried him in her womb. In similar fashion when I see the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, the wounded and the beaten can I see what Jesus would have done? Mary can teach us a lot.

Focus on Vocations

A Vocation Story

“It can be confusing”, is usually my go-to response whenever I’m asked what it’s like to discern if God is calling you to the priesthood or religious life. It can be a difficult feeling to describe – and often one can feel a great uneasiness and uncertainty – but there is a small feeling of knowing that this discernment of God’s call is something that you are not doing alone. It requires a journey, with God, to figure out where God is calling you.

I initially felt the desire to become a priest at the age of 14, and of course when I shared this news with people, the response varied. Some will support you, others may mock you, and others will question the certainty of your decision. I got the best advice from a young priest who simply told me that I was too young and should take my time in discerning God’s call in my life. And that is exactly what I did throughout my High School career.

After High School, I went on to peruse further studies at the University of the Western Cape. I studied nursing, and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. All this time on campus I was still taking my time discerning my call to the priesthood, but also becoming involved in various ministries in my parish. I was a youth leader for some time, and co-ordinator for the Altar Servers. I was also immensely fortunate to have Fr Michael van Heerden as my parish priest during this time. He has been, and still is, a constant presence within my vocation.

After varsity, I did my compulsory service at Groote Schuur Hospital, where I worked in the Emergency Department as well as the Intensive Care Department. I remember leaving the hospital one day with the thought, “I wonder what my day would be like if I was a priest”. It was then that I started attending the discernment classes offered by the Archdiocese. I also recall working the night shift and driving home to shower, eat some breakfast and drive back to town to attend the classes. These sessions had some good coffee and were interesting enough that I didn’t fall asleep during them.

After many years of discernment, attending discernment classes, and many conversations with various priests and religious – and also a new job at a private hospital – I applied for the seminary. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.
My advice to anyone discerning whether God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life is simply to allow God to work in you and through you. This is done by developing a deep prayer life, becoming involved in your parish, joining a ministry, but also finding a priest or religious that you can talk to. I’ve spoken to many priests and religious, and if I were to name them all it would take up most of this article. I still talk to these priests and religious today, because they have and still are providing invaluable support on my vocation journey.

My final piece of advice is not to panic. Yes, it can be confusing, but we have all been there. You need to develop trust in God and you need to say (and deeply believe) “Lord, your will be done and not mine”. You don’t have to know everything – what fun will there be if you know which way God is going to take you? Trust God.

I am still discerning my call to the priesthood, but I have an excellent support system – from my family, who have been there at the highest times but also the lowest, from my parish family, friends, brother seminarians, priests and religious, and of course my Archdiocese. The people of the Archdiocese have been the greatest support in my journey thus far.

So there you have it, a vocation story. So, to anyone who is discerning God’s call to the priesthood or religious life I have one question: “What will be your vocation story?”

Cape Town seminarians studying at St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria and Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rondebosch gathered for their bi-annual get-together with Cardinal Stephen Brislin and Bishop Sylvester David OMI, between 2-5 July 2023 at Maryland, Hanover Park