Catholic priests on joining the priesthood
Updated on 14 September 2010
As critics question whether Pope Benedict's visit to Britain this week will be a success, figures show more young men are training to become priests in England. A new recruit and a man considering joining the priesthood tell Channel 4 News why the Pope's visit is so important.
Matthew O'Gorman is training to be a Catholic priest in Rome. He describes his calling to "pass on the truth" to others through his work in the Church.
After I finished my degree at Sussex University, I was eager to work as an education officer for LIFE; a pro-life charity. I applied for a job with them, was accepted and visited schools as a guest speaker for four years.
Previously at university, I had many conversations with peers who disagreed with my views, yet I did not find any of their arguments convincing. I couldn't tear myself away from the truth of the pro-life position and it was that truth which attracted and inspired me.
During the years I spent visiting schools and speaking with students, I found great joy in being able to pass on a truth the students had never seen before.
Day by day, I started to realise that passing on the truth was the most fulfilling thing I could do. I found a deeper happiness in this particular activity than in any other.
Yet I was also becoming frustrated because I was not able to paint the full picture for them when focussing upon a single issue. I began to realise that the truth I loved was not only a set of principles but a real person- Jesus Christ.
It was his love that captivated me and, like anything good that one experiences, I wanted to share that experience with others. Unlike other good things, however, (God being the source and summit of them all) I could sense through this experience that I was being asked to give more than my time.
He was asking for me.
The role of the Catholic priest is to help others come to know Jesus Christ and, in order to do this, we aim to become like Him ourselves. Seminary is a place where we grow in our knowledge of God through prayer, study and service of each other.
My experience of the past two years, has made me more eager to become a priest. There are difficult times but these are far outweighed by the happiness which comes from knowing that, although it may be difficult, I am never truly alone.
Matthew Roche-Saunders, a psychology student at Exeter University is considering becoming a Catholic priest. He believes the the Pope's visit to the UK will be a "momentous occasion".
I am very excited about the Pope's visit to our country because he is a wise and holy man who is gifted with the ability to communicate with secular societies like our own.
I find his words incredibly moving and am confident that what he has to say will have a positive impact upon the debates of our time.
The visit of Pope Benedict to Britain later this week promises to be a momentous occasion for this country. The first State Visit from a Pope and the Beatification of one of the most famous English theologians in John Henry Newman, ensure that this trip is going to be memorable.
One of the best aspects of the Pope's journey will be the British pilgrims who will get to see him at one of the major events, and listen to the beauty of the Catholic message in our own language.
So often people rely on the reports of the media when listening to what Pope Benedict has to say – this time, they can hear, possibly for the first time, what the Church has to say.
From my point of view, I am considering a vocation to the Priesthood when I graduate from university in two years. The visit of the leader of the Catholic Church to these shores gives me, and those young men like me, great hope for the future.
The role of the Pope is an office given by Jesus Christ to St Peter two thousand years ago. Since then, the Church has had an unbroken chain of Popes who proclaim and teach the Catholic faith.
The Pope remains a priest, however. While being 'leader of priests', he is also 'Servant of the Servants of God', as Pope John Paul II described himself during his reign.
To be 'up close and personal' with our Holy Father in Great Britain is an important reminder for me, and those like me, that the Catholic Church is alive with faith, hope and love, all of which exude from Pope Benedict whenever he teaches the faith.
For me, encouragement in this way will hopefully strengthen those discerning the call to the Priesthood, and I pray it will give us all the courage to find our own vocation in life, and the zeal to spread what we believe to be the Truth.