Bishop Mark Davies preached to clergy during the annual Chrism Mass yesterday

The Bishop of Shrewsbury has said that new vocations to the priesthood can only be found through recognising the “reality of the Eucharist” and its intimate link with the ministerial priesthood.

During his Chrism Mass homily this week, at Our Lady and the Apostles Church, Stockport, yesterday evening, Bishop Mark Davies said: “In treasuring this gift of priestly celibacy we need to recognise more clearly the intimate link between the Ministerial Priesthood and the reality of the Eucharist. If the Mass were ever reduced in our minds to being merely a commemorative meal and the priest as only a community leader or functionary, then the celibacy of the Catholic Priesthood might seem extravagant.

“However, once the Ministerial Priesthood is seen in the light of Christ’s own total self-giving as Bridegroom to His Bride the Church, then the self-giving of priestly celibacy becomes a reflection of the truth of Christ’s own self-gift.”

During the annual Chrism Mass priests renew their vocational promises. Bishop Davies said that he understood there was a present concern for “the next generation of priests and where they will be found” He added: “Some might wonder if the bishop is hiding all the priests in another part of the Diocese! Or whether other local churches and other families will supply the needs of the future, thanks to the generous help of priests from overseas? Others might think there is some ‘quick-fix’ which might suddenly renew the number and youthfulness of the priests by making fewer demands on those called.”

Bishop Davies also announced the launch of a vocational gap year in his diocese for men discerning their call to the priesthood. He said: “In the vocations initiative starting this September at Shrewsbury Cathedral, we are offering a ‘Gap Year’ for young men considering this call to the priesthood by spending time in a parish and a community, growing in a life of prayer, getting to know the Gospel and the Catholic faith better; but, above all, being very close to the Eucharist.

“For it will be in the full Eucharistic faith and love of this Diocese, of our parishes and families, that a new generation of priests will be inspired to so live for Christ who died and rose again for us. Our High Priest, continually present in the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist ‘to Him … be glory and power for ever and ever.’”