Cultures that prevent vocations

The Fourth Sunday of Easter each year is called Good Shepherd Sunday because on this day the Church focuses on a section of the tenth Chapter of St John’s Gospel, in which Jesus reveals the relationship he has with each of his faithful followers.

May 29, 2014

By Charmaine Amanda
The Fourth Sunday of Easter each year is called Good Shepherd Sunday because on this day the Church focuses on a section of the tenth Chapter of St John’s Gospel, in which Jesus reveals the relationship he has with each of his faithful followers. Jesus says about himself: “I am the Good Shepherd.” And his faithful followers, with the words of today’s responsorial psalm, joyfully respond: “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want!” We mark this fact, this relationship, in the heart of the Easter Season each year, because it is the heart of our Easter joy: the risen Lord Jesus is our Shepherd and with Him we truly have it all! The Church also celebrates The World Day of Prayer for Vocations on this day. It is on this day that we unite ourselves to the Pope and to Catholics all over the world in praying to God the Father, the Harvest Master, to send out labourers, shepherds after the heart of his Son, into the fields. It was a privilege for the parishioners of Good Shepherd Church (GSC) to celebrate this day in grandeur as it also coincides with their parish feast day.

Fr William Michael, the assistant parish priest of St John’s Cathedral was the main presider at the multi-lingual feastday Mass. He talked about ‘cultures’ that prevent vocations in today’s world and a healthy culture, founded on right moral principles is essential to the development of a responsible, morally upright individual. Culture is the “common way of life” of people. The process by which culture is handed down by society and acquired by the individual is very comprehensive. It takes place first and foremost in the daily life of the family, in nearly any and every aspect of its social discourse and physical activity, and introduces the child to the values of culture.

The main reason for a decline in vocations is the emergence of a materialistic culture amongst our Catholic peoples. Due to the increase in materialism, vocations to the priesthood and religious life has taken a dip. Fr William stressed the need to plant the seeds of religious vocation early and to keep them watered. Parents are to be blamed for not inculcating the vocation culture in youths and children. He said that many youths do not have their own rosary but undoubtedly possess personal digital gadgets.

As Catholics, we are bound to pray for vocations to the priesthood. Without a priest, there can be no Eucharist, which is the essence of our Catholic faith. However, a culture of godlessness is now spiralling amongst Catholics. In our efforts to turn back the tide on godlessness, Fr William challenged the parishioners to at least instil a practice of weekly prayer with the family. He also quoted 2 Timothy 2:16, “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” He prayed that we may never grow so proud as to think we can do without God or religion.

The emergence of the divorce culture is another cause of a dwindling interest in the priesthood. Many young couples are getting divorced because commitment to marriage vows are no longer held as important and the views on divorce are very relaxed. Fr William, who is also an official at the Peninsular Malaysia Ecclesiastical Tribunal (PMET) related his experience in dealing with young couples seeking divorce. Minimal or no consideration is given to the faith life of the children when the parents are obssessed with resolving their issues through divorce. In making a decision to split and go their separate ways, the couple often turns a blind eye towards the Catholic Church’s teaching on ‘what God has joined no man should separate’.

Parish priest, Fr VA Michael, who was attending a meeting in Rome in his capacity as the Archdiocesan Director of the Pontifical Mission Society sent a Feastday message to all his parishioners. In his message, he reminded the people that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who promised never to leave His flock untended, continues to feed, lead and protect us through the vocation of the priesthood. As we listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice calling us by name in the Gospel, let us allow Him to shepherd us and follow in His footsteps in shepherding others, to the point of laying down our lives for others. He also assured his parishioners of his prayers and blessing. The message was conveyed by the PPC chairman, Noel Chua.

As it was also Mothers’ Day, Fr William gave a special blessing to all mothers present. Roses and cupcakes were sold with specially hand crafted messages. This year being the 50th Golden Jubilee of GSC, the various ministries and language groups put together a concert after Mass for all parishioners. The performances included classical dances, musicals, percussion recitals and a special performance by the East Malaysians. A sumptuous fellowship was also prepared by the BECs.

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