A special Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at St Mary’s the Mount Church, Walsall, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Vocationist Mission in the UK.

The Society of Divine Vocations was founded by Blessed Fr Justin Russolillo, in 1920, to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life, especially among the poor.

Its main ministry is to identify and guide those who believe they are called to serve God as Priests or Brothers, without allowing poverty to prevent them from realising their vocation.

The Vocationists live in the community and take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The Society of Divine Vocations (SDV) was invited to the United Kingdom by the Bishop of Wrexham in 2008. The first community was opened in Holywell, North Wales, followed by St Mary’s the Mount in 2012 and St Thomas of Canterbury in 2015.

In December 2018, St Patrick’s Church (also serving St. Catherine’s) became the latest parish to be included and is looked after by the priests from the religious community at St Mary’s the Mount.

To date, there are four Vocationist communities in the UK - Holywell, Walsall, Stetchford and Heston - providing pastoral support to a total of eight parishes.

A special Mass of Thanksgiving will be held in each of the Vocationist communities during the 12-month period which follows the 10th anniversary of their arrival in the UK; the Mass in Walsall being the third of these celebrations.

As there are now three Vocationist parishes in Walsall, this was a wonderful opportunity for parishioners from all three parishes to come together for a shared celebration of their faith.

Earlier this month (February) the people of Walsall were privileged to welcome Archbishop Bernard Longley to celebrate this special Mass of Thanksgiving, together with 21 priests, a deacon and two Vocationist Brothers who are currently studying at St Mary’s College, Oscott.

As well as the Vocationist priests from Stechford, Holywell and London, they were joined by priests from across the Archdiocese and from Oscott College.

The Superior General, Fr Antonio Rafael do Nascimento, SDV, also travelled from Italy to share in the celebration.

During his homily, Archbishop Bernard Longley looked back on the last 10 years of the Vocationists’ UK Mission and reminded us of the spiritual and personal strengths gained by working together as a religious community.

We pray that the grace each of us receives from God will enable all of us, clergy and parishioners alike, to work as loving parish communities, offering kindness and support to each other at all times and being alert to the needs of others, particularly those who are not always able to ask for our help.