by MICHAEL OTTO
There is to be a prayer for priestly vocations at every Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hamilton for the foreseeable future, as one response to a looming local shortage of priests.
This is until Hamilton diocese receives sufficient vocations to the priesthood for the future, wrote cathedral administrator Fr Richard Laurenson in the cathedral newsletter on the first Sunday of Lent.
With the recent deaths of two priests in the diocese and the upcoming return to their home nations of two others in the next few months, it is likely that “by June we may be in the situation of having two full time priests for four parishes” in part of Hamilton, Fr Laurenson wrote.
“I would like it to be different, but it may not be,” he added.
“All I can promise is interesting times,” he wrote.
A number of priests, including Fr Andrew Paris of Opus Dei, who works at the University of Waikato, have offered to
help, and this offer “has been gratefully received”, Fr Laurenson noted.
A roster is being developed for cathedral weekday Masses and Reconciliation.
Fr Laurenson also stated that local deacons “will be given more work to do”.
“Perhaps we need a couple more permanent deacons on our side of the river?” he postulated.
“Please keep all us priests, deacons and parish workers in your prayers as we respond to the call of the Lord to remain in his vineyard always with the hope that the Lord will provide us the means and the method to serve him well,” he wrote.
Fr Laurenson told NZ Catholic that Bishop Denis Browne asked for serious promotion of vocations in Hamilton diocese some years ago. Vocations directors picked up this challenge, Fr Laurenson said.
“With Bishop Steve having been staff on the seminary, it seems only right to make vocations front and centre of the cathedral’s effort,” he said.
Fr Laurenson is leading the cathedral and Hillcrest parishes, while remaining — for now — pastor of Fairfield and Te Rapa.