Archbishop Rino Fisichella addresses vocations conference in Maynooth: “Pray for Priests”

25 Apr 2023

  • “Pope Francis encourages us to propose priesthood to the men of this generation with faith and confidence” – Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

Today in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Archbishop Rino Fischella’s, Pro-Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelisation, was the keynote speaker who addressed an audience of over 100 people committed to vocations to the diocesan priesthood, including seminarians, clergy, mothers, fathers and other members of the lay faithful.  The theme of the conference was ‘Evangelisation and Vocation’ and it was hosted by the National Vocations Office of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. 

In his address entitled, Priesthood in a Synodal Church, Archbishop Fisichella said, “The encounter with Christ must be personal: the Master’s eyes must be on mine, and only then does the encounter become a vocation.  A good priest is always a miracle of grace … Let us not forget the sacramental grace of the priestly office.  It helps one to break out of one’s self … let us pray for priests.”  Archbishop Rino continued, “Jesus proclaims ‘good news’ that consists of the ‘nearness’ of God – that God is ‘in our midst’.  The use of the term ‘news’ should not be overlooked; it is of paramount importance.  Without the mission, there is no Church; we will always have to be very radical about this.”  See the link below for the full text of the address by Archbishop Fisichella.

Opening the conference, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and chair of the Council for Vocations, said “I am delighted to welcome Archbishop Rino Fisichella and all the speakers for our conference today which formally launches the Year for Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood on the theme ‘Take the Risk for Christ’.

Bishop Cullinan continued, “In my life I have known great priests, both diocesan and religious.  I think that most people have known good, hard-working priests.  These men have inspired and helped countless people.  The priesthood was instituted by Christ himself to follow in his steps and will always be essential in the mission of Christ’s Church on earth to serve and sanctify the people so that the world may be sanctified and that we human beings will find the way in life that leads to eternal happiness.  Right now in Ireland we need more priests.  In spite of all the distractions of modern life God is still calling men to follow him in this way, of that we can be sure.  Pope Francis has written a message to us for this Year for Vocation, and the Holy Father encourages us to propose priesthood to the men of this generation with faith and confidence.  I am really looking forward to the whole year and all the events which are planned.  I ask people all around the country, and indeed wherever this message is heard, to pray throughout this year, especially, that there will be a particular focus on priesthood so that seeds will be planted in young men’s hearts and that – with God’s help – this special year will produce a lot of priestly vocations.”

Speaking at the conference, Father Willie Purcell, National Diocesan Vocations Coordinator, said, “This year marks the 60th anniversary of the initiation of the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations, instituted by Saint Pope Paul VI in 1963 during the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.  The World day of prayer for Vocations is also referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday.  We see in Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the heart of every calling.  As we launch this Year for Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood, on the theme ‘Take the Risk for Christ’, our televised Mass this Sunday at 11.00am on RTÉ One unites us in prayer for vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and permanent diaconate.  I am grateful to RTÉ for providing this opportunity for us to join with the world through the media of television, and the internet, as one family praying for vocations as we walk the synodal pathway in hope.”


Notes for Editors

  • The Year for Vocation has been organised by the Bishops’ Council for Vocations and will commence on Good Shepherd Sunday, 30 April next. 
  • Please watch these personal testimonies on vocations: Take the Risk for Christ.  It has been commissioned by the National Vocations Office and produced by the religious congregation, Servant Sisters – Home of the Mother: Take the Risk for Christ – YouTube
  • Photographs from the conference for publication by media will be available from John McElroy on +353 (0) 87 2416985 and by email [email protected].  
  • See conference schedule below, on the theme of Evangelisation and Vocation, which is taking place today at Saint Patricks’ College, Maynooth:

10:00 Welcome by facilitator Ms Wendy Grace, journalist, broadcaster and commentator

10:05 Opening prayer – Archbishop Francis Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam

10:10 Introduction to:

  • Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Chair of the Council for Vocations of the Irish Bishops’ Conference
  • Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Pro-Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelisation

10:20 Keynote address: ‘Priesthood in a Synodal Church’ by Archbishop Fisichella 

11:00 Response to Archbishop Fisichella by Father Tomás Surlis, Rector of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth

11:10 Contribution by Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland


11:25 Introduction to the responding panel by Wendy Grace:

  • Ms Hilda Grace, mother of priest
  • Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry
  • Michael Kelly, editor of The Irish Catholic, broadcaster and commentator
  • Stephen Sherry, seminarian

11:45 Questions from the audience facilitated by Wendy Grace

12:00 Bishop Cullinan expresses gratitude to Archbishop Fisichella

12:15 Video testimonies on vocations: Take the Risk for Christ.  Commissioned by the National Vocations Office and produced by the religious congregation, Servant Sisters – Home of the Mother

Lunch in Pugin Hall

14:00 Introduction to expert panel by Wendy Grace:

  • Ms Jennifer Kehoe, wife and mother
  • Father Brendan Kilcoyne, priest of the Archdiocese of Tuam, broadcaster and commentator  
  • Dr Gavin Ashenden, former Anglican priest and bishop

15:30 Questions from the audience

15:45 Bishop Cullinan reviews and concludes conference proceedings and thanks participants

16:00 Closing prayer