A list of books suggested by Paula Gooder on the recent day we had for discernment.

Cowley, Ian. The Contemplative Minister: Learning to Lead from the Still Centre. Edited by Lisa Cherrett. 1 edition. The Bible Reading Fellowship, 2015.

Magdalene, Katy. I Think It’s God Calling: A Vocation Diary. 1 edition. Bible Reading Fellowship, 2015.

Percy, Emma. What Clergy Do: Especially When It Looks like Nothing. SPCK, 2014.

Ross-McNairn, Jonathon. Being a Curate: Stories of What It’s Really like. SPCK, 2014.

Smith, Magdalen. Steel Angels: The Personal Qualities of a Priest. SPCK, 2014.

Tomlin, Graham. The Widening Circle. SPCK, 2014.


On reading the Bible well

Adams, Edward. Parallel Lives of Jesus: Four Gospels - One Story. SPCK, 2012.

Barton, John. The Bible: The Basics. 1 edition. Routledge, 2010.

Hays, Richard. Reading Backwards. SPCK, 2015.

Taylor, Simon. How To Read The Bible. SPCK, 2015.

Wright, Tom. Why Read the Bible?: A Little Book of Guidance. SPCK, 2015.

Austin Farrer


 The Essential Sermons



Austin Farrer was a prolific preacher in the period from the end of World War II to the emergence of a very different world in the 1960’s. This collection of sermons covers a wide range of fascinating subjects and provides excellent devotional reading for those discerning a vocation.

Christopher Cocksworth and Rosalind Brown

Being A Priest Today

Canterbury Press


This is now a classic series of writing looking at the root, shape and the fruit of the priestly life. Anyone thinking of the priesthood should give this book a read.

James Martin

‘Jesus, A Pilgrimage’ by James Martin,

SJ (Harper One) 526pp, hbk


ISBN 978-0-06-202423-7


Father Martin’s book is a rich, multi-layered guide book.  It is a travelogue, an account of a pilgrimage he, initially reluctantly, made to the Holy Land. It is also a guide to the life and ministry of Jesus, dealing sequentially with key moments in Christ’s life, and finally it is also an account of Father Martin’s own journey of discernment and spiritual growth, central to which is the discovery of his vocation as a priest.


As Father Martin explains in his introduction he has come to know Jesus through his academic studies, prayer, experience and pilgrimage. One of the great achievements of this book is the way in which these elements are woven together in a way that remains balanced and accessible.


Vocation is the central theme that underpins this exploration of place and person. In a powerful passage in chapter seven Father Martin builds on his reflections on the call of the first disciples by explaining his own growing sense of a vocation to the priesthood. The growing dissatisfaction with an occupation or lifestyle that he describes maybe a familiar experience for many as they begin the process of discernment. However, as Father Martin explains there are a multitude of ways in which we can be called, and if it is initially through dissatisfaction with the status quo then, if the call is from God, it will be followed by the hope of something new.

It’s little wonder that the themes in this book complement each other so well. All of Christian life is a response to the call to follow Jesus, and not just at a distance but to seek to draw ever nearer to him. The descriptions of the key locations found in the gospels create a backdrop which vividly links us through time to first century Palestine. Father Martin’s reflections on key gospel texts, drawing on Ignatian spirituality, encourage us to stand alongside, for example, Simon and Andrew at the Sea of Galilee as Jesus calls them. We are encouraged to contemplate what that event might mean for us. Like Simon and Andrew this might mean letting go of our own plans, even our livelihoods, and following a radically different path. However, as Father Martin contends, if we respond as Simon and Andrew did we will be allowing Christ to free us to be the people God has made us to be. That is one of the most powerful explanations of Christian vocation that I have read.


Fr Mathew
Assistant curate at Saint John’s Sevenoaks

John Pritchard

The Life and Work of a Priest



 Written relatively recently, the Bishop of Oxford touches on some pertinent pastoral themes in this comprehensive guide to priestly ministry. Priesthood is described as both strategic presence and strategic action. +Pritchard believes in a lively and collaborative ministry.

Matt Woodcock

Becoming Reverend
A Diary

Meet Woody.

Former journalist.

Die-hard Oasis fan.

High energy.

Low sperm count.

Training to be a vicar. Obviously.

Matt Woodcock's frank, funny real-life diaries reveal what it was like for him to train as a vicar while struggling against all odds to become a father.

In them he lays bare his joys and struggles as he attempts to reconcile his calling as a vicar with his life as a party-loving journalist, footy-freak and incorrigible extrovert.

Becoming Reverend is a compelling and original account of how faith can work in the midst of a messy life, combining family, fertility, faith and friendship with the story of a divine - but unlikely - calling.

A former newspaper journalist, Matt Woodcock is now a Church of England minister in Hull. He puts on a sell-out beer festival in his church every year and walks real camels down Hull's main shopping street at Christmas.
Available here

Peter Allan CR

The Fire and the Clay



 A range of thought provoking articles including an opening chapter which asks the question ‘Who is the real me?’ 
The book also looks at how it is possible to live together and learn from the love of God in today’s complex church.

Pope Benedict XVI

Priests of Jesus Christ Vol II

St Paul’s


The last decade ended with a year for priests – called by Pope Benedict. The majority of texts in this collection are speeches or homilies given by the then Pope to the faithful. They contain some excellent reflective material on the road to exploration of a vocation to priesthood.

Robin Ward

On Christian Priesthood



With chapters on “Religion”, “Mystery”, “Sacrifice”, “Priesthood”, ”Rite” and “Cure” this valuable book gives depth and meaning to some of the theology around what it means to be a priest in today’s church.

Rowan Williams

Being Disciples
Anyone pursing a vocational path should never stray too far from the basics of the Christian life.
This book is a wonderfully simple if profound introduction to the key elements of Christianity drawing especially on scripture.
It benefits wonderfully from the huge intellect and spirituality of Dr Rowan Williams and is a must-read.
Order here



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