The Deacon's Bench

Those clever people in Britain have devised a new way to encourage vocations: priestly pin-ups. Or, more accurately, clerical calendars:

Twelve Catholic priests have swapped their pulpits for favourite pastimes in a calendar designed to try to recruit young men to the priesthood.

The priests, from the Diocese of Leeds, are pictured in an array of activities, including reading celebrity magazines, watching baseball and DIY.

Each featured priest also reveals what inspired them to join the church.

The calendar has been created as part of a drive to encourage teenagers to take up Holy Orders.

It comes as the Catholic Church faces a national shortage of people entering the profession.

The priests also say what they believe they would be doing if they were not a priest.

Answers to that question range from those who would have undertaken other vocational careers such as policing and nursing to those who could not dream of doing anything else in life.

October priest Father Matthew Habron, of St Austin’s in Wakefield, says his childhood dream was to be an astronaut.

The calendar was the idea of Father Simon Lodge, of Myddelton Grange, Ilkley, who reveals in November: “If I weren’t a priest I’d be up to no good. Or at least more than I am already!”

First priest in the calendar is Father Pat Wall, of Christ the King in Bramley, who is pictured dressed in a New York Yankees baseball top and cap and wearing a baseball mitt to represent his American nationality.

Father Eamonn Hegarty, of the Sacred Heart in Howden, East Yorkshire, is shown running in February, while March’s contributor, Father Neil Byrne, of St Joseph’s in Harrogate, is seen indulging in a copy of celebrity gossip magazine, Heat.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Leeds said: “You get up in the pulpit each week and say we need more priests but after a while the needle sticks.

“The calendar was an attempt to inspire people and recruit more priests as we are getting less and less as the years go by.”

There’s more at the BBC link. Go team!

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