Good Shepherd Sunday 2024

Our synodal journey reinforced our commitment to becoming a Church that values the vocation of all the baptised, but on the Fourth Sunday of Eastertide, we are reminded of the importance of praying in a special way for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. This Good Shepherd Sunday we have much to celebrate because this academic year is a significant one for vocations to the priesthood within our Archdiocese. God willing, by the end of July, 5 men will have been ordained to the priesthood for our Archdiocese.


Fr Hugh Donleavy was ordained to the priesthood on 1 December at St Alban’s Church in Warrington and plans are underway for the ordination of Deacons James Finnegan and Martin Fyles (from the Venerable English College, Rome), Peter Ross (from St Mary’s College, Oscott) and Lister Tonge, (a former Anglican Minister). If all goes to plan, they will be ordained together in the Cathedral on 13 July.


There are currently three other men in formation for our Archdiocese in the Beda College, Rome and Allen Hall, London and two candidates currently involved in the process of applying to begin seminary in September.  Usually, on the first Saturday of each month a group of men gather together to reflect on the priesthood and to discern whether this is God’s calling for them. The road to the priesthood is long and these men need your continued prayer and the support you give to the Priest Training Fund collection that takes place today.


There is no one type of man that God is calling and our seminarians and discerners come from different backgrounds, have had a wide range of life experiences and cover a range of ages. Perhaps God is calling you!


If you think God might be calling you to serve as a priest within our Archdiocese and are ready to explore this further and perhaps meet other men who are thinking about their vocation, please contact the Vocations’ Director, either by telephoning the Parish of St Charles and St Thomas More in Aigburth on 0151 727 2493 or 

In his pastoral message for Good Shepherd Sunday, the Chair of the National Office for Vocation, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, has affirmed the value of being a good listener in order to hear God’s call to holiness.


“One of our modern problems is that our world is very noisy, and it is often difficult to hear our own voices and thoughts in the surrounding din, let alone the words of others,” he writes. “One situation that can occur is we find ourselves on set paths in life, and it is not easy to change direction even if we want to do just that. Commitment to our families and other responsibilities block our ears and we just carry on as before.”


Good Shepherd Sunday is the day chosen for ‘Vocations Sunday’ and is celebrated this year on Sunday, 21 April 2024.


Saint John Henry Newman teaches that God has a definite purpose for each and every one of us, but Archbishop McMahon is keen to highlight the huge value of priests, nuns and monks to the Church:

“There is no doubt that the church needs priests to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments, and Religious to offer a living witness to the values of the Kingdom of God. Without them, we would be a very impoverished Church.”


But how can we work out whether God is calling us to a particular vocation? The Archbishop of Liverpool suggests women and men should ask whether their vocational journey is likely to bring them contentment:

“One simple test is whether following a particular path in life gives us joy. If we are happy and content, or at least think we will be, then it is worth giving it a try. I am not saying that we should be deliriously happy all the time but there should be an underlying knowledge that we have chosen the right path in response to God’s call.”


Archbishop McMahon is quick to point out that although discerning a vocation involves a leap of faith, it is not a leap into the unknown:

“Just as there are risks in getting married, no matter how much we prepare for it, so there are risks in offering yourself for priesthood and religious life. In all cases we have examples of happy and fulfilled people living their vocation.”


Quoting Pope Francis, he proposes two pillars of Catholic life that can help people interpret God’s call – serving others and spending time before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.


“Adoration is a special kind of prayer which helps us shirk off everything except that one person who is important to us – Jesus Christ. Pope Francis’ second point was to steer us towards service of others. In serving others, giving ourselves to other people in response to different needs, we undoubtedly find Jesus.”


To see the full Pastoral Message below: