The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28)





Annual Vocation Retreats

For men The Annual Retreat for men considering a vocation to the priesthood will take place at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, from Friday evening, 30th January until after lunch on Sunday 1st February.

For more information, or to book a place, please contact the diocesan Vocations Director, Fr Stephen Langridge, by calling 020 8355 0211 or sending an email to

For women There will be a Vocations Retreat for women considering the Religious Life from Friday 13th February until Sunday 15th February. It will take place at St Joseph's Priory in Lymington and is open to anyone from 18-30 years of age.

For more information please contact the Diocesan Vocations Office:

Inaugural Meeting of the Quo Vadis Group


On Friday, 3rd October 2008, the first meeting of the new Quo Vadis Group took place at St Osmund's parish in Barnes.

A direct fruit of our diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day the Quo Vadis Group is for full time college and university students who want to explore further the concept of vocation in their lives. Taking as its motto "One Mission is worth a thousand possibilities" from the homily at the Opening Mass in Sydney, the group offers young people the chance to come together on the first Friday of each month.

After the celebration of Mass we share a simple supper before a reflection tied in somehow to the Church's year - this month we looked at what we can learn from St Thérèse of Lisieux whose feast day we had just celebrated - we then have a time of Eucharistic Adoration finishing up with Night Prayer. Eighteen young people joined us for the first meeting, mostly from the diocese, but also from as far afield as Reading and Leicester.

For more information about the activities of the Quo Vadis Group please
contact the diocesan vocations office:


Diocesan Vocations Retreat

Vocation Retreat

at Wonersh


record number


Some of the participants at this year's retreat

The Diocesan Vocations Retreat at St John's Seminary attracted the largest number of participants since this annual event started four years ago. Eighteen men of different ages and backgrounds joined the seminary for a weekend of prayer and reflection on the Call to Priesthood.

Apart from the opportunity to join the Seminary in its pattern of prayer and community life, participants heard inputs from Fr Stephen Langridge, Fr Paul Turner (Vocations Directors of Southwark and Arundel & Brighton respectively) and Fr Gerard Bradley the seminary's Spiritual Director. There were also a number of opportunities for the seminarians - many of whom had themselves attended past Vocations Retreats - to share the story of their vocation journey.

All those who took part spoke of being impressed by the warmth of the welcome they received. In the feedback afterwards many of them said the weekend had helped them make a decisive step forward in their own discernment process.

The Vocations Director would like to thank those priests who advertised the weekend and especially those who recommended it personally to some of their parishioners.

Primary School Vocation Days

The summer term is a great time to schedule a Primary Vocations Day such as the one held each year at the Holy Ghost School in Balham.

Once a date has been arranged with the school the priests of the parish arrange for a visit for a number of visitors who will talk to years five and six about their vocation. These can include married couples as well as priests and religious brothers and sisters. The presentation involves some input and discussion as well as visual stimulation – which could be as simple as a religious habit, a chalice or wedding rings – photographs of particular apostolates or artefacts from the missions are also very good. The visitors are also encouraged to meet with the children in the playground. The purpose of the day is to familiarise the children with the different vocations in the Church and to encourage them to be open to their own particular vocation.

In the photograph Sr Jacinthe OP answers the children’s questions
during the lunch break.


Archbishop Kevin's homily on the Priesthood
on the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

This homily was given at a Vocation Gathering of seminarians and those thinking about becoming priests at the Holy Ghost Church, Balham, on Wednesday, 27th December 2006.

In the Office of Readings for Advent, there is a very powerful reading from St John of the Cross in which he compares the “Old Law” with the “Law of the Gospel”. He is comparing the covenant made with the people of Israel to the covenant established in Jesus Christ. Under the Old Law, he says, it was entirely appropriate to seek visions and revelations from God. But, with the establishment of the Law of the Gospel, the need for such visions and revelations has disappeared:

“When he gave us, as he did, his Son, who is his one Word, he spoke everything to us, once and for all in that one Word. There is nothing further for him to say.”

It would be foolish and offensive, St John continued, to be putting questions to God and seeking specific answers. All we need to do is to fix our eyes on Christ but without seeking anything “new”. These are wise words containing a message that still needs to be received today. All of us, in fact, ask questions of God, whether implicitly or explicitly. Sometimes it just takes a news bulletin to make us cry out “why?” It’s not easy to learn the lesson that in Jesus Christ we have the inexhaustible source of wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

In St John the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today, we are presented with someone who directly encountered the fullness of life and truth that are in Jesus Christ:

“Something which has existed since the beginning, that we have heard, that we have seen with our own eyes, that we have watched; this is our subject.”

John, like the other apostles, is the source of the Church’s “memory” of Jesus. From them flows the tradition of knowledge and understanding that is our Christian heritage.

In this Christmas season, we Christians proclaim the moment in history when things became forever different. As we heard in the Christmas liturgy: “A child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He is Christ the Lord.” To some, the proclamation of that message means nothing. It is fanciful – a myth handed on from the ancient world. But for those who have received the gift of faith, and struggle to live by it, things are different. We cannot simply hear the message and do nothing about it. For the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ to be a source of grace, a source of wisdom and understanding, we, like the shepherds on Christmas night, must go to meet the Lord. We go to meet him in the scriptures, in silent prayer and very specially in the Eucharist which we see and touch. A life of prayer and of engagement with the sacraments of the Church takes us into a voyage of discovery in which Jesus Christ comes alive to us and we grow in personal knowledge of him.

St John the Evangelist is a kind of icon of progressive and intimate knowledge of Jesus. He laid his head on Christ’s breast at the last supper. He was present at the foot of the cross when he died. He saw blood and water flow from the side of Christ. Our journey to deeper knowledge of Jesus will take us to the cross but also to the source of living water.

All this is vital for those for whom we exercise priestly ministry. It must be pondered by those considering a vocation. All Christians bring Christ to one another but the priest, in virtue of his sacramental office makes the living Christ present in the world through the sacraments and most significantly through the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine. He makes it possible for people to “see” and “touch” the Risen Lord. He gives what no one else can, and what people most deeply need.

A vocation to the priesthood is a tough life but it is the best possible life for those who are called to it. The key to happiness and effectiveness in the priesthood is our personal, developing and growing relationship to Jesus. If that is in place, or moving into place, then we will receive the healing, the vision, and the confidence to minister to God’s people in a very special way of life – a road less travelled, marked by the cross, but full of beauty, of abundant life and of great rewards.



Brief History


Return to Southwark Website Homepage