This weekend I find myself reflecting again on two events that have happened without my really noticing. As it turns out, the two events are connected.
The first event is the visit of the relic of the heart of St John Mary Vianney to the north-west of England, and to Birmingham. Details of the visit, and associated resources, can be found at the website of Shrewsbury Diocese.
The second is the annual Invocation 2012 festival at Oscott College, Birmingham. This event is aimed at young people and intends to encourage them in discerning their vocation in the world and in the Church. It is characterised by the presence of young priests and religious and by the presence of representatives of some of the new orders and religious communities. The home page of the Invocation website is here. The link to the visit of the relic of St John Mary Vianney is that the relic was brought to Oscott College as part of the programme of the festival.
To try and capture something of both events, I link to the text of the address delivered by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury at the Invocation event. Two points that I particularly noticed about this address were the way in which the origins of the priestly vocations of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were cited as examples for the young people listening, and the confident and strong affirmation of the value of the ordained priesthood that is drawn from the words of St John Mary Vianney.
It is also interesting to note the way in which the words of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are cited by Bishop Davies. There is nothing dogmatic or authoritarian about this. The Holy Father exercises a pastoral office towards the whole Church through annual messages such as those for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. However, that exercise of a universal office is not in conflict with the exercise of a local pastoral office by the Bishop of a diocese, and the use by Bishop Davies of citations of the words of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI indicates the way in which the two offices act in communion with each other.