Prayer for Vocations
We thank you for the blessings you have given us in Christ our Redeemer.
Let your Spirit overshadow your people, making your gentle invitation heard in many hearts.
Lord of the Harvest, bless the Redemptorist family throughout the world with many vocations, so that those in greatest need will experience the Good News of Redemption.
May your love grow among us and your kingdom come, through Christ our Lord.
Interview with Fr Bev Ahearn CSsR
Interview with Diamond Jubiliarian Fr Bev CSsR...
Fr Bev Ahearn CSsR,
Diamond Jubilee of Priestly Ordination.
The following article was prepared by one of our Postulants, Br Michael Taylor.
Why do we make the life-changing decisions that we do ?
How do we get to where we are ?
These where the questions in my mind when I ( a thirteen-week old postulant ) was asked to interview Fr Bev Ahearn ( celebrating 60 years of ordination ).
“I wanted to become a missionary” is Fr Bev’s simple answer.
And so began a lifetime’s journey, the majority of it “ lived out” in the Redemptorist Congregation…or to be more precise, the Redemptorist family.
Indeed, when Fr Bev’s time (5yrs.) in the Junior Seminary was drawing to a close, his family were war-requisitioned to Australia because of his father’s profession and Fr Bev had to choose…he stayed with his Redemptorist family.
However, we get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning.
Br. Peter Morris C.Ss.R
The UK Religious Life website has the vocation story of our Brother Peter Morris C.Ss.R., click here to read it.
Fr Elias Gweme - It started with her Eyes
Elias Gweme CSsR - sharing his Journey.
It all started in the late '80s when I used to sit with my brother in our spare bedroom scrutinizing this strange picture of a woman. What struck us so much were the eyes. No matter how we would try to hide, we would feel that she was staring at us and indeed, she always was. Some priests had given my mother two pictures of this woman many years before. As a family, we would always have our night prayers together but on busy days the girls would pray in their room, mum and dad in their bedroom, and we, the boys, in our bedroom. My brother and I would look forward to these days, but the problem was the woman on the other side of the room. We knew those eyes would look at us until we had said our night prayers, so we would take the picture, put it under the bed and go to sleep.
However, the biggest suprise of all came at the end of 1997. After I got to know the Redemptorists through the Catholic Church News and from some friends, I came to a 'come and see' experience, a vocations workshop with the Redemptorists. I was given a nice room, and when I looked around it, there was that woman again, this time she had a bigger shinier picture. I looked at her with utter amazement, so much so that the Brother who was looking after me noticed and said 'this is the icon of our most blessed mother, Our Lady of Perpetual Help'.
He explained many other things which I did not take in at the time because I was already trying to connect my own mother with the Redemptorists. Late that night as I was lying on the bed looking at what I now knew to be the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I felt this was my home and I said here I could stay. The following year I was welcomed by the Redemptorist community as a postulant together with Br. Mark Chandavengerwa and others.
'A Religious vocation is a gift freely given and freely recieved.'
Ever since, I have continued to grow both physically and spiritually. After a year of Catechesis and Christian Ethics at Wdzanai Catechetical Centre, I started my philosophy studies in the year 2000 at Arrupe College and completed them in 2002. I was then a novice in South Africa under the 'close watch' of Fr. Andrew Burns CSsR. After the celebration of my first vows, I started theological studies as one of the pioneers at Holy Trinity College. Over those years of study, I have had a chance to visit the province and participated in the 2007 spirituality course in Italy. This served as preparation for my final vows and diaconate, which we celebrated on the 19th and 20th of April 2008.
On Profession day, Fr. Richard Reid CSsR was the preacher. Soon after the ceremony my sister said;"so they send you people to Rome to learn how to preach?". I said;"no it's done here in Tafara". I don't think she believed me! I wish to say thanks to the brothers here in the region and throughout the whole province for their support.
Special thanks to Fr. Ronnie the Provincial and to Archbishop Ndlovu who graced our celebrations. God has and will continue to answer our prayers.
'You are at the great crossroads of your lives, and you must decide.'
Now my mother remembers two priests whom she helped when they were preaching in her home parish. She cannot remember their names but she said they were nice people and at the week of preaching, they gave her two icons of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Gerry Mulligan - My Life as a Redemptorist
My Life as a Redemptorist - Gerry Mulligan C.Ss.R.
I arrived at the Redemptorist community in Perth forty seven years ago knowing very little about the priesthood or religious life. Since I was still sixteen, I probably knew little enough about life itself. In the years that followed I learned a lot.
One of the first things I learned was about what I would now call ‘community’. To be accepted as an equal, irrespective of your age, background, education and gifts was a new experience. All that seemed to matter was that you were a Redemptorist or that you wanted to become one. You shared the same food and lodgings but also you spent quality time together.
This experience was deepened some years later when I spent time in our international community in Rome. To have your dinner with brother Redemptorists from South America, Vietnam, India and to realise that you shared something special with them all was exciting.
To meet confreres who had been imprisoned in the communist countries of Eastern Europe was like meeting heroes you had only previously read about.
The dazzling example of Saint Gerard is a 'living memory' of the gospel truth that it is God who is at work in us. The God-in-us draws others, the God-in-us heals others, the God-in-us delights in others.
It seemed to me that something special happened when Redemptorists got into the pulpit. Until then I judged sermons by their length and the shorter the better. But there was a magic about seeing these men preaching. There was a passion to communicate and an energy in all they said. They seemed to be serious about what they were doing. And they made me laugh.
But perhaps the thing that struck me most about them was their compassion. When they asked you how you were getting on they seemed interested in your answer. And if you were sick they were concerned. I began to see how they related to others, especially those who were in some kind of need. They seemed to be close to people. They seemed just to be there with people, not always with the answers, but always with respect, concern and warmth. They were no good, like fish out of water, if you separated them from people. The Redemptorists were people who needed people and as the song says, they were ‘the luckiest people in the world’.
"You must live for God, you must live for others. And no-one can live this life for you."
And when I was let loose as a Redemptorist myself, I realised the value of all that I had learned. I had inherited a share of their pastoral compassion and it would shape my life. But perhaps the best thing the Redemptorists taught me was how much I still had to learn and where I would learn it. And that was with people.
People have taught me to be a priest. And it is, I think, people who write the sermons, the best ones anyway. What Redemptorists try to do is to receive from people the wealth of their ordinary experience and when this meets with gospel compassion, something wonderful emerges. And that is what they want to share with the whole world.
Gerry Mulligan C.Ss.R. Middlesbrough
Ronnie McAinsh - A Zimbabwean Journey
Ronnie McAinsh - A Zimbabwean Journey
Fr. Ronnie's journey continues in his role of Provincial of the London Province.
My journey to Zimbabwe began when a letter arrived in Plymouth in June 1989. I was Novice Master there, and had been so for the previous 12 years, and so was vaguely aware that I might be changed to a new apostolate.
I opened the letter before going into class - only to see that I had been appointed to Zimbabwe! I managed to teach the class, although one of the Novices did ask me if I was unwell as I was rather pale. Zimbabwe had never crossed my mind. However, when I took my Vows in 1966, I knew I was writing a blank cheque with my life, and offering God whatever he wanted. I just never thought he would want me in Africa. As the Scriptures say, 'God's ways are not our ways'.
So I arrived here, after much paper work, six months later. The culture shock was very great. However the welcome from the people (whose language I could not even vaguely comprehend) was enormous. My task was to minister in the Township parishes and eventually to recruit local men who would be Zimbabwean Redemptorists.
It has been an enormous adventure. I have lived and worked with Zimbabweans for the past 17 years, and indeed at this time I am the only non Zimbabwean Redemptorist in our Region. We now have a wonderful group of young priests and Brothers from all over Zimbabwe - and in addition we have 27 in training for Redemptorist life and ministry. I have to say that I have not regretted one single moment of my time here.
Of course it has not been easy. Being thousands of miles from family, friends, confreres with whom I trained, and living in a different culture is a great challenge. Working among those who are disadvantaged, who are physically and spiritually hungry has also presented me with a new vision of Redemptorist life. Our young Redemptorists themselves have been my greatest inspiration. They are not saints. (well, that is my opinion!) However, they are striving to be saints, men who live by the Word of God and preach it to the most abandoned and the poor.
Each morning we begin our day with prayer together at 6.15. This is followed byMass at 6.45. Then there is the round of visits to the sick and dying, funerals, wedding, Masses with the various groups, as well as working with our trainee Redemptorists. In the evening we gather again at 6.15 for another 30 minutes of prayer together. Then we have supper and some recreation time together. Some Evenings there is youth work in the townships. At other times work in our own Redemptorist community. Some evenings we may visit or help out at St. Gerard's community, which consists of four young Zimbabwean Redemptorists who are engaged in the ministry of preaching and publications in another area of the Town.
To begin to list all that is done would take more space than this page. Let me just say that there is never a dull moment. In the midst of power cuts, lack of fuel and general shortages, I find a refreshing cheerfulness among our brethren. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the life itself. To celebrate a liturgy with them - to hear 30 voices raised in song, accompanied by the drums and the hoshos (shakers) is an experience that always lifts the spirit.
When St. Alphonsus founded the Redemptorists in 1732, Zimbabwe did not exist as a country. However, he longed to bring the Word of God to Africa. Now the Redemptorists are active in many African counties, and Jesus is being proclaimed in a vital and exciting and fresh way. It has been my privilege to be part of this plan of God for the Redemptorists in Africa. Let's pray that the dream continues, and that many more young men dedicate themselves to the service of God and His Church by joining us to preach missions, retreats, do parish work and publications in the spirit of our Founder.
Ronald McAinsh C.Ss.R. Perth
Desmond Keegan - An Interview with a faithful Priest
Desmond Keegan C.Ss.R - An Interview with a faithful Priest
Why I did what I did and do what I do
Recently, I was interviewed by a teenager who was completing a module on priesthood at school. The young student's deceptively simple and straightforward questions provide an excellent platform from which to reflect about how and why a forty six year old former dentist from Glasgow is now Parish Priest of Bisop Eton, our Redemptorist Parish in Liverpool.
Why did you choose to become a priest, and why a Redemptorist Priest?
I became a priest for one main reason. When I was growing up I was very impressed and influenced by the wonderful example of so many kind, caring and compassionate priests who were doing great work in my parish and also my school. Their example encouraged me to become a priest. And why a Redemptorist priest? Simply because the Redemptorists made me very welcome when I accepted their invitation twenty years ago to 'Come and See' where they lived, which was the Redemptorist Spirituality centre in Kinnoull, Perth, Scotland.
How do you see your life in terms of discipleship?
The discipleship of the priest is beautifully described by the questions addressed to priests by their Bishop during the Holy Thursday Mass of Chrism. "Are you ready to renew your own dedication to Christ? Are you resolved to unite yourselves more closely to Christ and to try to become like him? Are you resolved to be faithful ministers of the mysteries of God, to celebrate the Eucharist and other liturgical services with sincere devotion?" The priest answers these awesome questions with the response:" I am with the help of God."
I can only be faithful to this huge responsibility by staying close to Jesus every day. In his recent book,"Being a Bishop in Scotland", Bishop Maurice Taylor, the retired Bishop of Galloway, writes that his motto as Bishop wasAmbula coram Deo, Walk in God's Presence. For football supporters, a more flippant translation might be, You'll never walk alone. The phrase comes from the book of Genesis when Abraham is told to leave his country and to walk in God's presence as he goes to the land to which God has chosen to send him.
Do you think it is easier to be a disciple today than it was at the time of Jesus?
I think that it is neither easier nor more difficult; it is just different. Many people still lose their lives today because of their belief in Jesus. Perhaps, in this country, we will not be called to die for our faith, but to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, has demands and pressures which call for us all to have courage, a spirit of self sacrifice, commitment and preserverance. In a recent article about priesthood, Father John Jay Hughes wrote, no vocation brings uninterupted joy. Every life is shadowed by the Cross. For example, a widow spoke for married people when she once said;'When you walk up to the altar on your wedding day you don't see The stations of the Cross'. If priesthood, like marriage, leads to Calvary, it leads beyond Calvary to Ressurection and unending joy.
A final thought.
When I was at school, a wonderful teacher often gave the following career advice. Whatever you do with your life, try to leave the world a better place than you found it. In my vocation as a redemptorist priest I believe that, with God's grace and in a very small way, I am trying to leave the world a better place than I found it
Jim McManus - Binding the broken heart
Jim McManus C.Ss.R - Binding the broken heart
Proclaiming the Good News
The most exciting thing for me about being a Redemptorist is preaching the Word of God. Once I began to believe and understand that the sermon or homily that we preach is God's word, not a piece of theology, or catechism, my whole attitude to preaching changed. And I saw too that the effects of preaching changed.
I had spent many years in studying and "learning" theology. And after fifty years I am still studying some aspect of theology every day. But, while a good theological preparation is vital for a life of preaching, there is no substitute for that very specific faith that God commissions us to speak in his name. God uses our human word to convey his own word.
The preacher prepares to say what he wants to say. However, through what he says, God speaks in theheart of the hearer. Every preacher knows that from his experience. Often, people have thanked me for saying something I didn't say. Somehow, in the muddle of what i had been trying to say, they heard what God wanted them to hear. And often that changed their lives.
Jesus described his own ministry in this way: "he sent me to bind up the broken heart". The word of God that we preach is the means through which the broken heart is healed. The heart aches for the assurance of love - the love of God, the love of others. As Pope John Paul II said in his very first encyclical, "man cannot live without love".
The mission of the Redemptorist preacher is to bring to everyone, especially those who feel most forsaken, the good news that God loves him or her unconditionally. I have witnessed people who's live was aimless and pointless being transformed as the word of preaching sank into their hearts. The realisation that the preacher is not talking about someone else but is actually talking to him or her, about God loving them! That is the moment of truth and enlightenment that binds up the broken heart, transforms lives, and sets a person on the road to human fulfillment.
I have formed many close relationships with prisoners and offenders; I find the "loiterers with intent" model of ministry is quite appropriate in dealing with my friends in the Vinyard.
As a Redemptorist preacher I am sent to bring God's word to people in a great variety of situations. Hundreds come to our renewal centre in Scotland each year. In that residential setting I witness great inner healing in people's lives. But, like every other Redemptorist, I am often invited to preach in parishes or in other conference centres, both within Britian and overseas. There I witness to the truth that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever". Christ is doing today the work that he did 2000 years ago. He invites us to be his collaborators. Our Constitutions express this truth beautifully:
Redemptorists are sent as helpers, companions and ministers of Jesus Christ in the great work of redemption to preach the word of salvation to the poor.
I love that word "companion" in our Constitutions. We are not just 'working for Jesus Christ', we are 'working with him'. We are his companions, his friends, in doing what he came to do, namely, bringing the good news of God's salvation to our world. And, looking back over fifty years as a Redemptorist, I can say that friendship with Jesus, getting to know and love him as my friend, is the grace I want to share with everyone. There be no greater sense of human fulfillment than the awareness that one is the companion of Jesus Christ - doing God's work by proclaiming that with him "there is plentiful redemption".
Jim McManus C.Ss.R. Perth, Scotland
Denis McBride - Join the Redemptorists and see the World
Denis McBride C.Ss.R - Join the Redemptorists and see the World
Fr. McBride has now moved on to oversee the life and work of RP - our publications house in Chawton Hants, and to continue his writing and reflections. In addition Fr. McBride has his own website which you can visist by clicking here.
I attended a junior seminary in Scotland, where all the teaching staff were priests: they taught Latin and Greek and Mathematics, and all the other subjects I found hopelessly dreary. One weekend a Redemptorist came to the school and talked about Jesus in a simple and passionate way. This priest was free to wander up and down Britain giving missions and retreats, rather than being locked into the fixed world of a classroom wrestling with irregular verbs. When I was thrown out of seminary – for not taking my studies seriously and for being irredeemably thick – I remembered his way of being a priest, and requested to follow him into the Redemptorists.
The Redemptorists have been my life since that day and I have never regretted it. Since I was eighteen, I have lived my Christian faith in Redemptorist community; and although community life has its mixture of the crooked and the cracked, I have always felt at home there. I believe that faith isn’t an arena for gladiators; it’s a hospital for people who are broken. It is also an occasion of growth and renewal, a field of plenitude where you can breathe deeply.
My work as a Redemptorist has taken me all over the world – from the rain forests of Borneo to the wide avenues of New York to the sandy spread of the Kalahari Desert – and I have met a long litany of good people, struggling to live a life of faith. The reason I have been invited to go to these places is simple – to reflect with people on the story of Jesus in the Gospels. The Gospels, the images, the vocabulary, the whole culture of the faith have always been an important place for me, because this place allows me to articulate myself more intelligibly and offer God’s message of plentiful redemption to people.
My present responsibility is directing the three-month courses in personal renewal in Hawkstone Hall, a beautiful old place set in parkland in Shropshire. To this place people come on pilgrimage, from every corner of the world, looking for a time of renewal for themselves and refreshment for their ongoing mission. It has been a privilege to meet such a diversity of good people – many struggling in war-torn places or ministering to the wretched of the earth – and become a small part of their lives.
Part of my life as a Redemptorist has also been writing books, most of which are published by our own Redemptorist Publications in England and the USA. This gives me access to thousands of people I would never otherwise meet and the opportunity to open a conversation about Jesus and the significance of his life and mission.
None of this I could manage on my own; I can do it only as a Redemptorist. The Redemptorists have given me access to the Gospels, to a way of being myself in the world, to a huge variety of different people, to a stunning world that would otherwise have remained unseen and unvisited. Much of who we are is what we owe to others: to my family and the Redemptorists I owe my life.
Denis McBride, C.Ss.R. Chawton
Anthony Hodgetts - At home and Abroad
Anthony E. Hodgetts C.Ss.R - At Home and Abroad
Dear Fr. Hodgetts C.Ss.R passed away in September 2008 may he Rest In Peace. We retain the reflections on his calling in tribute and thanksgiving for his great service to the Church.
The Redemptorists have been part of my life since aged four. I entered primary school in the parish of Erdington, Birmingham. The priests and brothers in the former Benedictine Abbey opposite my home were close family friends. It seemed quite natural, when I was drawn to priesthood, to try my fortune with them, so straight after "A" levels at King Edward's school; I went to the Noviciate in Scotland. I then returned to the midlands for seven years of preparation and study and was ordained in January 1963.
The Redemptorist family of priests and brothers exists to bring Plentiful Redemption throughout the world, especially to the poor and needy. I am fortunate to have spent fifteen years in Rome, studying and living with men from very different backgrounds and cultures, from all five continents, and hearing them speak passionately of Redemptorist life in half the nations of the world. Three of these years coincided with the Second Vatican Council when new ways of reaching out to God's people and preaching his wonderful works to all mankind were discussed by the bishops of the entire Church
One of the new ways chosen was to integrate the training of priests with the university life of each nation, to ensure that diocesan priests and those from religious congregations should be thoroughly prepared to meet the needy and un-churched in any situation. Not long afterwards the London Province of the Congregation moved its students to Kent. In Canterbury they learned their trade with the Franciscans and secular students at U.K.C. After six years as a parish Missioner, sometimes working with other churches in joint outreach - another way recommended at Vatican II, I rejoined them.
Ecumenism, and the training of students for the priesthood continued to be important throughout the 1980's and 90's. After Canterbury, and three years in Bishop Eton, our Liverpool Parish, I spent five years as Pastoral Director and teaching the Scriptures at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome. This deepened my understanding of the worldwide church. The students were all mature men. They came from every part of the english speaking world and from many walks of life. Some were formerly clergy in other churches; some were widowers; some were already members of religious orders, including our Redemptorist Congregation. All had sensed that God was calling them to his service. I learned much from them.
In Rome I was able to meet and talk with men and women who were committed to bringing the Churches back to unity. When I returned to England in 1995, I was asked by the church leaders on Merseyside to be their ecumenical officer working full time with local groups of churches to help them come closer together, in prayer, work and study. Archbishop Worlock, Bishop Sheppard, and Free Church leaders, John Newton (Methodist) and keith Hobbs (Baptist) set a pattern that influenced and encouraged Christians far beyond Merseyside to try to put aside ancient differences and realize how much they have in common.
These years were followed by another amazing five year posting to Rome, spent first as English chaplain and Director of our famous Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in our church of Saint Alphonsus in Via Merulana, and then in administration in the general house of the Redemptorists next door. Ill health suggested I return to the UK in 2004. I am now able to assist again in our Liverpool Parish, and write for our flourishing Publications House, which is in Jane Austin's home village of Chawton, Hampshire. Writing of which reminds me that my own childhood home in Erdington is now a Redemptorist community house. God's ways are strange and marvelous indeed!
Anthony E. Hodgetts C.Ss.R.
Page 1 of 2
Vocations - St Alphonsus Video