Archbishop Jason Gordon is calling for a “paradigm” shift in how vocations are viewed. He envisions the Seminary St John Vianney and Uganda Martyrs, Tunapuna as a place of formation for Catholics, Christians, people of God “calling forth and equipping them for the vocation which God entrusted to their care”.
He stated from this paradigm the academic block can be looked at differently, “it’s not first about priests and second about lay people”. His Grace shared this perspective in the homily at the closing Mass and graduation for the Seminary on Thursday, May 12 at the Our Lady of Exile Abbey, Mt St Benedict.
Archbishop Gordon reflected that in 2017 the Antilles Episcopal Conference of bishops had a conference on vocations which for him was a paradigm shift to understand.
“Once you move from trying to call forth vocations for priesthood and religious life to trying to call forth vocation, singular, of the whole people of God, you have a whole new ecclesiology and a whole new understanding of what Church looks like.”
In the First Reading Acts 13:13–25, Paul and his companions travel to Antioch, where Paul addresses the synagogue. Archbishop Gordon said Barnabas brought Paul into the church because he saw “what God was asking of Paul”, similar to Jesus seeing what God was asking from Peter.
He told the 2022 graduating class and for those in the new academic year the important lesson for them was the vocation of the person was more important than one’s own feelings or “what I want”.
He clarified, “The vocation of Paul comes because Barnabas dares to risk finding him, bringing him in and ministering to him, and now willing to be the second partner and no longer the principal actor within the church in Antioch and the regions around it.” Without Barnabas, the Church would not have the reflections on the mystery of Christianity in the Pauline letters.
Archbishop Gordon stressed it was vital to see what God is asking of each person in parish or ministry and other areas. “If we keep that as our view, we will pull people into mission for the sake of the Church even when they might outshine us.”
Archbishop Gordon said there is a romanticised idea that the saints got along well, and everything was “honky dory” but this was not always the case. Despite this, they each understood their vocation and mission and the ways others were gifted by God to also live fully their vocation and mission. “That is the Church that is emerging,” Archbishop Gordon said.
Pope Francis in speaking of synodality speaks of the vocation of every baptised member of Church. In his address for Mission Sunday the Holy Father goes further, saying every person before baptism had a call for God.
Archbishop Gordon said, “If we think about church and vocation, every person has a role to play and our role as leaders in the Church is to call forth from each person, to call forth their vocation, to help them discern it and equip them to live that vocation fully.”
On the gospel (John 13:16–20), Jesus’ washing the feet of His disciples, he reminded the seminarians the vocation of priesthood is a vocation of humility and service. Jesus instructed His disciples to follow His example.
Archbishop Gordon said there was a time when priesthood was “a badge of honour, a dignity”, the Church emerging from the synodal process is “recapturing the New Testament image of servant Church”.
He stated priesthood was one vocation among others equal in dignity while called to be servant of other vocations. —LPG