Novel new calendar to recruit more priests

The Catholic Church is trying to show the human side of priests in a new calendar that it hopes will drive up interest among teenagers to join the priesthood.

The calendar features twelve Catholic priests from the Diocese of Leeds pictured indulging in their favourite pastimes, which range from DIY, to reading celebrity magazines like Heat or watching baseball, reports the BBC.

The calendar comes on the back of a dedicated campaign by the Catholic Church to boost the numbers entering into the priesthood.

In summer 2006, the Church launched a series of promotional posters and campaign material centred upon a 25-year-old Bristol man ahead of his ordination as a priest.

The 2008 calendar reflects the continued need within the Catholic Church to up recruitment levels.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Leeds was quoted by the BBC as saying: "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."

The priests are featured in the calendar alongside their personal reflections on why they felt called to take up Holy Orders, as well as what they might be doing had they not pursued the priesthood.

Some of the priests say they would have taken up other vocational careers such as policing and nursing, while others say they could never have been anything but a priest, reports the BBC.

The calendar is the brainchild of Father Simon Lodge, of Myddelton Grange, Ilkley, who said on his November page: "If I weren't a priest I'd be up to no good. Or at least more than I am already!"

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Arthur Roche, said he hoped the calendar would show off the human side of priests.

"Priests are not created out of nothing," he said.

"They come from ordinary families and they have dreams and aspirations as does every young man. They also have worries and concerns. But despite this they offer themselves generously for service in the Church."

The calendar is on sale for £4.99 in Catholic churches throughout West Yorkshire, and proceeds will go towards Myddelton Grange Catholic Retreat Centre in Ilkley, which runs day and residential retreats for young people.