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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 December 2007, 11:14 GMT
Calendar aims to recruit priests
Father Pat Wall, of Christ the King, Bramley, watches baseball on television
Father Pat Wall supports the New York Yankees baseball team
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.

If I weren't a priest I'd be up to no good. Or at least more than I am already!
Father Simon Lodge

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!"

Human side

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.

Father Neil Byrne outside HMP Wealstun, near Wetherby
Father Neil Byrne is the prison chaplain at HMP Wealstun, near Wetherby

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."

Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Arthur Roche, hopes the calendar will help young men see the human side of the priesthood.

"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 at every Catholic church in West Yorkshire, priced 4.99.

The proceeds go towards the Myddelton Grange Catholic Retreat Centre in Ilkley, which provides day and residential retreats for young people.

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