Good Shepherd Sunday is also known as Vocation Sunday. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on vocations and in particular vocations to the priesthood. We all receive a vocation or calling at baptism. Each of us are called to lay down our lives like Jesus in today’s Gospel, to serve God and to serve other people. Think of marriage, the couple say, ‘in sickness and in health, for better and for worse…” they offer themselves to the other and then to their family. As I will be ordained in the next few weeks, I look to my own vocation story.
This time ten years ago, I was preparing for my Leaving Cert and wondering what I would do for the rest of my life. I considered myself as reasonably normal, I played football for my local football team and I enjoyed socializing with my friends. I always wondered about the world, why is 2+2=4 and why does the earth go around the sun, so I decided to study mathematics in college. I was searching for the truth.
Before I completed my Leaving Cert, someone suggested that I go to a World Youth Day gathering. It was explained to me as a festival with one million young people where there would be music, general good craic and it was going to be in Germany. What I heard was “party in Germany”, so I was in. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. I remember one morning waking up in a field at about 5am. I was tired and confused… I sat up in my sleeping bag… and as far as my eyes could see there were other people asleep. We had slept under the stars and the following morning we would have mass with the Pope. However, I couldn’t help wonder, what brought one million people form all over the world together, to this random field in Germany and make them so joyful? The answer could only be Jesus.
When I returned from that trip I began dating a girl who had also been on the trip. She thought me how to pray, how to spend some time in silence and getting to develop a personal relationship with the person who is Jesus. Then it started, the question: What about priesthood? At this stage in my life I was happy. I had a wonderful, friends and in my head I was going to get married, have a good job, a nice and a big house. So, to stop these questions, I decided to stop praying. However that did not work either. After some time, reflection and some guidance from the local priests I decided to apply to Bishop Smith to join the seminary. I finished my degree and now six years later I will be ordained.
On the 28th of June, I will process into the chapel in front of the priests and in front of the bishop. At first I will take my seat with my family. Shortly after the homily, I will be called forward. The bishop will ask every one there, to pray for me and then I will lie completely flat on the ground. For about ten minutes a cantor will sing and pray to the saints asking them to intercede for me. Then I will kneel and the bishop and priests will lay their hands on me in the ancient church tradition and ordain me a priest. After that I will be anointed a priest, and I in turn will be able to anoint the sick and bring healing, hear confession and offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
There are eight seminarians for Meath and I ask that you pray for us all. I also ask that you would suggest to a young person, about becoming a priest or joining the religious life. I ask you especially to pray for me in the days and weeks ahead as I make my final preparations to be ordained.
Rev. Robert McGivney will be ordained a priest by Bishop Michael Smith on Sunday 28 June 2015 at 3pm in St Mary’s Church, Navan.