Fr Stephen Langridge runs the Archdiocese of Southwark Vocations Centre at Whitstable. Today he posted Before and After Photographs: the Garden.
Read the post by Fr Langridge for more information.
Students who are preparing to apply to the Archdiocese are able to stay at the Centre and, along with occasional help from seminarians already in training, have been doing a lot of the basic spade work to bring the Centre up to scratch. The garden is one thing - it certainly makes for a lovely area for visitors to relax in during the summer. However, if you look through the Southwark Vocations blog you can see that there has also been a lot of work going on in the house itself with guest rooms being painted and re-fitted, and the communal areas being set up for purpose so that the Centre can host events for students and for clergy. I'm arranging for my own deanery clergy to pay a visit and to hear from Fr Langridge on how to promote vocations.
One of my own parishioners has been spending quite a bit of time at Whitstable and is, I understand, currently helping with the redecoration of the chapel. Next year, there are six students expected to be staying there for a time. The physical refurbishment of the Vocations Centre is a symbol of the flowering of vocations and a new culture of vocation among the young who have grown up in an increasingly secular society, know the score, and want to bring Christ to the world.
Please pray for vocations for our diocese - and indeed in my own parish. In addition to our new seminarian, we have several young women seriously considering religious life and one young man in simple vows with the Benedictines. This is a great blessing for us and a tremendous joy for me as a priest. I certainly don't claim any credit: Spiritus ubi vult spirat (Jn 3.8) and He has, according to His own inscrutable design, chosen to work among us in this way. As a hardened old slogger of a parish priest, my experience makes me cautiously look out for what the devil will now throw at us in revenge. Do offer up a prayer to St Michael.
As Blessed Pope John Paul put it, echoed by Pope Benedict: "The Church is alive! The Church is young!" Pray for our generous young apostles who are arming themselves for the spiritual battle. Pray for me that I can help them by good advice and example.