Responding to the Call

Tuesday 30th May 2023

On the evening of Thursday 25 May, the beautiful Grade II listed St Mary’s, Brownedge Church, Bamber Bridge hosted a Mass for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life for the Deanery of St John Southworth, the most northerly of the nine deaneries in the Diocese of Salford.

Fr Mark Harold, who, in addition to being Parish Priest is also the Dean, presided and Mass was concelebrated by Fr Colin Battell OSB, Assistant Priest, together with Fr Mark Paver, Diocesan Vocations Director; Fr Michael Deas, Diocesan Vocations Promoter; Monsignor John Corcoran, former Dean and former Parish Priest, Our Lady of the Valley (Clitheroe, Sabden and Dunsop Bridge); Fr Tim Curtis SJ, Parish Priest, St Peter’s, Stonyhurst and St Joseph’s, Hurst Green; and Fr Noel Wynn SM, a member of the Marist Community in Blackburn and former Rector and Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham. Also present was Theo, a seminarian for our diocese who is studying for the Priesthood at the Venerable English College, Rome but who is currently on a pastoral year in St Matthew’s, Manchester.

We welcomed young people and staff from St Augustine’s RC High School, Billington, Clitheroe who proclaimed the readings and bidding prayers and took part in the Offertory Procession – thanks to them for their participation and for enriching the Mass.

The Proper of the Mass and the readings, with the exception of the Gospel (which was proclaimed by Fr Mark Paver), were taken from the Memorial Mass of St Bede, whose Memorial fell on the day, and the Mass setting was the ‘Mass of Christ the Saviour’ by Daniel L Schutte. Fr Mark gave a purposeful and humorous homily reflecting briefly on the gifts, experience and background of the concelebrating Priests and Theo and that:

“One of the things that joins the thread is that these people responded to what God wanted them to be, God formed them to be”

Fr Mark also reflected on his alternative choice for the Gospel which was the Call of St Matthew, in St Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 9, Verse 9:

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house; and he said to him, “Follow me”. And he got up and followed him”.

St Bede wrote a commentary on this Gospel passage which, Fr Mark, explained, had encouraged Pope Francis, as a 17 year old, having been to confession on the Feast of St Matthew, to read and which encouraged him in his vocation. Years later, Pope Francis was inspired by St Matthew in his choice of motto when he became Archbishop of Buenos Aries.

At the end of Mass, Fr Michael Deas gave a brief address in which he emphasised that those expressing an interest in a vocation be encouraged and supported.

Thanks also go to our organist, Mr Raymund Livesey, and to our team of six Altar Servers and to all those involved in organising and preparing for the Mass.

If you would like to know more about vocations, you can contact Fr Mark Paver or Fr Michael Deas on or

A recording of the Mass is available on the parish live-streaming service under the ‘Recordings’ tab.

 Report provided with thanks from St Mary’s Brownledge

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