The UNITED KINGDOM
Christian names beginning with G, H & I
"Quite recently I painted an icon of Mary and, as I built up the layers of tempura on the gesso, I felt that I was going through every stage of her life. And it was very painful, it was very joyous, and there was such an incredible message that she gave me, and all the pain that I felt she gave me comfort every step of the way. And to show the icon to other people, it seems to reach them."
"From there I was headhunted by Cardiff University and spent four years doing a PhD on dust in distant galaxies. But half way through the doctorate I asked the big question again 'Lord, what should I do next?' and this time the answer was different. I was driving a friend home from another Youth 2000 retreat when, somewhere past Reading on the motorway, I turned to her and I said "Still don't know what I'm doing after this PhD but when I become a priest, I shall ..' Oh, what did I just say? It was then that I knew that the idea had gone from somewhere in my head to somewhere in my heart and it was time to take the next step. So I approached the archdiocese of Cardiff and, after finishing the PhD, I went to seminary at Wonersh and was ordained priest in 2006. I served five years in the parish of St Dyfrig, Pontypridd, and then came to the city of Cardiff where I now serve as a Catholic priest. The journey with God hasn't finished yet. I don't know what's in store next but I don't need to know. I know I'm in the right place, doing what He has asked me to do: "Do this in memory of me.""
"Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe was a fantastic man who was a Franciscan priest and it was his passion to spread the Good News throughout the world. This saw him setting up a printing press in Poland and going as far as Japan to spread the Good News of the Gospel. During the Nazi regime that took hold, he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz for speaking out about human dignity. While he was at Auschwitz he continued to live that Gospel message of spreading truth and love. And he really did show hope where there was despair, he showed love where there was hatred. In his time at Auschwitz he would listen to confessions, where possible; he would celebrate Mass, when possible, and he lived a truly devout and holy life. He always had a massive passion for Our Lady as well and took her role as true disciple to heart. Father Maximilian Kolbe was a man who, through his passion for the Gospel, gave his life for another man in Auschwitz."
"It is far more important to have a strong, unified family and I think as an icon Mary represents that, but far deeper than that she is the mother of Jesus and therefore has a great, deep significant role in our faith and helps us through our many trials."
"Mary, our mother is an inspiration to me because she said to God, completely and wholly said yes to God and accepted His will. … I also find the Magnificat that she sang on her visitation to Elizabeth, I find that really inspirational. It's a song of love for God and her soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God her Saviour, and I really aspire to those words myself, and I want my spirit to rejoice in my God and to know His love."
"The more I understand the relationship between Jesus and his mother, the more I can understand how important it is that I recognise her as my mother spiritually."
"Any area of darkness in my life I can turn to Mary and I have a real sense of hope for the future that there's nothing that, with her interceding to her Son, I can't overcome."
"Our Lady, she’s my no. 1 woman, after my wife .. I’m 75 now & Our Lady looked after me all these years, and she will still look after me. Amen."
"Saint Gianna Molla is one of the Patron Saints of the Unborn. She grew up in Italy and worked for Catholic Action. She was a very studious youngster and then she got into medicine and her calling was in medicine. She got married and had several children. When she was pregnant with her last child, there was some sort of complication and there were suggestions of perhaps some sort of abortion, but she said that if there's any question about it, save the life of the child, not me. And she died after childbirth, and it was that child who was with her husband at her beatification, about 40 years later. That's why I love her."
"Something about Mary for me is that she brings victory of goodness over evil and of life over death. She brings us to God, and she is close to God and to us."
"I believe Our Lady intervened for me when my brother was seriously ill with a head injury in London."
"I think it's really important to pray to Our Lady for many reasons. Because she is the mother of Our Lord and he entrusted us to her in a motherly way. On the very Cross he said 'Woman, behold your son' and pointed at his beloved apostle. There are many other reasons as well. Throughout the history of the Church people have asked for the intercession of our Blessed Mother and we've been told that the rosary has on occasions literally stopped wars. I think also if you look in the Gospel, whenever she is quoted as having spoken, it is always very deep and profound. Once she asks for Our Lord to help the wedding couple at Cana and what she says is so simple, she just says 'They have no more wine': she knows exactly what the couple needed because she was their mother, and so that is why I think we should pray to Our Lady."
"Mary is our mother who prays for us, intercedes for us, who is our example. Her yes is an example to us in our lives and, in all of this, she points us to Jesus."
"Our Lady has always been very special to me, I suppose because my mother had such a very deep devotion towards her. When I was little she was like a mother to me and as I've grown older, I can so identify with her and her sufferings with Jesus. She is just a wonderful inspiration and when I think of her as a young girl accepting that, it's just mind-boggling."
"I think that Mary is a bit in a way like my Mum because I pray to her at night when I'm scared, like if there's a thunderstorm, or if I'm scared about something that's going to happen in the future or in the past that has happened. And I pray to her when I'm feeling happy as well when I'm glad about something or I'm grateful."
"I feel very blessed to have Our Lady as my mother and I try and think as much as I can and remember in the day what she was like as a mother to Jesus - how loving and how kind and patient, the infinite joy she must have had when she was with her son, and try to think of how she would have responded in certain situations she would have been faced with as a mother, so that I could try my hardest to imitate her.. She is so loving and kind and wants so much to bring us, her children, to her son. She is a wonderful mother to everyone and I call on her whenever I need her. She always responds with love and kindness."
"'Full of grace' - that to me is the most pertinent aspect of Mary's life and witness to me. She is a woman who heard God speaking his secret wisdom in the depths of her heart and, inspite of all the opposition outside there in the world, she remained true to the secret wisdom spoken in her heart and did what God commanded and brought His living body down from heaven to earth to redeem mankind. So it's the aspect of grace and responding to grace that makes Mary so special for me. She was unafraid to go where God called her and to take on the establishment and all the conventions of Jewish culture of the day, to be a faithful witness to God's calling and to live out the message of the angel Gabriel when he said 'Hail Mary'."
Hal St John chat's about playing at the opening ceremony of World Youth Day Madrid with Cherrie Anderson, having been chosen through the song competition Madrid Me Encanta, the all night vigil at JMJ 2011 and World Youth Days past & future - in the Philippines & Brazil.
"For me, Mary is a lot of things but most of all she’s an inspiration, just in the way that she said yes when I don't know if she fully understood what she was saying yes to, but just her trust, I find that overwhelming. Trust is something that I find difficult so Mary's like an inspiration to me and she's awesome."
"The Blessed Virgin Mary for me is the blessed heavenly Mother that we have that we also call to in need to help us at times of difficulty."
"For me, Mary is my role model. From that very first moment of the annunciation where Mary gave her fiat, from her faithfulness, from the fact that she was the mother of the Church, the Church in Christ was formed in her womb. The way she followed Christ on his way. She was there, she shared all of his sufferings, she shared all of his joys. And she was there at the foot of the Cross and she held the body of Jesus in her arms."
"The Eucharist is a really important part of my life, and I get great joy and encouragement from spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. And for me Jesus is just incredibly present there and it's an amazing way to spend time with God. I don't find I need to say anything or do anything, I can just sit and spend time with God, and that really refreshes me and builds me up. It's an amazing gift to have in the Church."
Helen's Word on the Street
Philippians 4, 13 - I can do all things in Him who gives me strength:
"This is an amazing verse and it always gives me encouragement. Whenever I feel like everything's on top of me, whether it's a huge thing or a little thing, I know that I can just turn to God and his strength working in me, if I say 'God, I need your help. or I just can't do this. then I know that God will be there every time. Whatever it is I need help with, whether it's huge or little, God is there and He is the strength that I need to do that and that's an incredible gift."
"Mary means a lot to me because she’s such a good role model for women because she gave up her life for the Lord and just said like ‘Your will be done.’ And she just did it, without any questions really. And she was so chaste and so pure and loving, and she's just such an inspiration. Any time I feel like I'm struggling or anything, I just have to look at a picture of Mary and just think, 'That's what I'm doing it for. I'm doing it for Jesus.' And she brings me so much closer to him."
"Our Lady is to me my eternal mother, so when I am away from my mother, Our Lady is always there. Our Lady is also the reference in which I try and base myself, and who I try to form myself to, to be an image of Our Lady to those on earth."
"Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, Mary Mother of Jesus, means to me the beginning, the start of my journey, my own personal journey, as I don't think I would have encountered Jesus without her."
"Mary to me is the person who gave the gift of Jesus to the world. Her ‘yes’, when she didn’t know what was going to be involved, made Christ coming possible, made everything that followed possible for us."
"I find perhaps the most important, poignant element of Mary is the status of mother, and the status that she has as of a mother looking after many vulnerable children, children like her own son. The very fact that He died like a man, tortured, scourged and crucified, reminds us once again that He took her flesh in the life that He lived. For me, if you like, it heightens the fact that Jesus is our brother, and that we are His siblings and Mary is our mother."
"I think my vocation to the priesthood is rooted in my prayers as a small child with my father. He was ill during my teenage years and he didn't continue it then and maybe I didn't want to anyway, but the quite strong experience of knowing God as a small child, particularly praying with my Dad, I think rooted much of my priesthood and my vocation. As a teenager I still went to Mass and for some reason when I was under the stars, looking up at the beautiful sky, I had a real sense of the Creator behind this amazing universe. But outside of that, as a teenager, I didn't really pray and I drifted. But I still enjoyed discussing philosophy and the existence of God, a bit. Then, as I was leaving school in my sixth form, I have the distinct memory of praying under the stars again actually, saying 'Look, you're there God, but where are you? I don't know you. I know you're there but surely you're not just beyond the universe. Have you come into the universe?' Even though I was going to Mass, I didn't link the two at all. .. I do remember saying 'I'm quite happy to give up being Catholic in order to know you, so where are you?' … I've sensed that this type of family, this type of fatherhood, this type of commitment that is the priesthood is the one that I happened to be called. .. I just never really lost for more than a few hours this basic peace and excitement of loving people and being loved by God."
Father Hugh MacKenzie is a priest of Westminster archdiocese, currently serving in a hospital & studying a PhD at UCL. He gave his vocation story two days before the 20th anniversary of his priesthood (21st July 2015) - happy, blessed anniversary, Father Hugh - here's to the next 20!