First of all I want to thank you all for accepting the invitation to come here this evening. I want to congratulate and thank the Vocations Commission and Mgr. McEntegart in particular, for taking up the suggestion made earlier this year by one of the Commission. The idea was followed up and a very successful meeting was held some months ago in Castlebellingham and then, last week, we had a similar sort of meeting in Armagh. A very useful exchange of views took place – views which were, I hope, helpful to many of those present.

I first of all want to thank you for the excellent work you do in schools for that section of our young people who are under a lot of pressure to do well academically as well as on the sporting field. They do this while also being embroiled in sorting out their relationships. In the midst of all that, the work of helping people to make good choices and take the right road in life, is very important. I suppose we all can remember the help we got at that stage in our lives to help us make choices and I think Father Dermot Maloney is going to speak about that later on.

We can have a useful exchange of views about the teaching of Religious Education (RE) in the schools and the problem which you encounter there and the help you would like to get from your local priests. Specifically, however, we are focusing on the point that we believe God is continuing to call young men and women to religious life and the priesthood. The Lord has done that in the past and no doubt continues to do so because He does not leave His Church without the services of priests. We will never be found wanting that way. I know enough about the character and calibre of the prayer life and sacramental practice of so many homes in this diocese that I am sure God is continuing to do the same.

The job of Guidance Counselling extends throughout the whole education and career of young people. It helps them to make good choices – choices of subjects – so that they will be led to the right road.

The purpose of this meeting is not to ask you to do the work of promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life but simply to enlist your help in one very specific area. As good professionals I know that you place before the young people a wide range of vocations, professions, Third Level Institutes of Technology, Universities and Training Colleges. Among the Third Level Institutes the possibility also exists that some people will find their fulfilment and their happiness in seminaries and in following that road. If God is calling us to do a certain good in life and we do not achieve that we will not be as fulfilled as we might be. I just want to ask you not to omit to facilitate your students in considering this possibility, in a fair and impartial way.