On Wednesday of this week, 30th January, I made my definitive Engagement as a member of the Society of St John Vianney. This took place during a Mass in the chapel of the Bon Pasteur, in the John Paul II House at Ars, France, the house of the Society.
Definitive Engagement is the third and final stage of membership of the Society, and was for me the culmination of a process which I can trace back to the year 2000. In the summer of 2000 I returned to the UK from a two-year course at the JPII Institute in Valencia, Spain, and being appointed again as a Parish Priest became aware again of how important it is for priests to be able to share their life and mission with one another. So began a process of exploration and discovery of various priestly associations and societies. In 2006 I encountered the SJMV during the first International Priest's Retreat at Ars and, one year later entered into the first stage of its membership.
30th January 2019 was a day of special joy for me, to be able to commit myself to the Society for the rest of my life. A large part of my seeking full membership comes from a desire to contribute to the Diocesan priesthood, and feeling that I can do that more ably through a priestly movement, than on my own. And I am very happy to contribute to the nurturing of the priesthood within Europe, by belonging to a priestly movement at the heart of Europe.
The strength of welcome that I experienced on Wednesday of this week, from the other members of the SJMV, is the same as that which I have experienced all along since my first engagement with the Society in 2007.
Thanks to Fr Gaspar for taking the photo above.