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The 4th Sunday of Easter is sometimes referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. The reason for this is very straightforward. The Gospel for this Sunday always features an account of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd is a familiar biblical image. The shepherd is the one who watches out for the flock, tries to keep them together, ensures they are adequately fed and watered, and protects them from danger. The true shepherd always has the welfare of the flock at heart. The image of the Good Shepherd speaks of God’s care and concern for his people.

Traditionally on this Sunday we are invited to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Every time and era needs its dedicated spiritual leaders to encourage and support God’s people in living their lives as disciples of Jesus, to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, to be ministers of God’s grace and compassion, and to be a visible presence of God’s abiding love for his people.

The current social climate is far less supportive of a decision to go forward for priesthood than in years gone by. It is more important than ever that we continue to pray for those preparing for priesthood at this time. We pray too that those considering a call to priesthood will have the courage to answer that call. On a personal note I have to express my appreciation for the wonderful support that people have given me over my years of priesthood. It has certainly sustained me and continues to enable me to be a priest in Dublin today. Thank you.

Fr. Kieran Coghlan

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