'Year for Priests' is opportunity for renewal - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

‘Year for Priests’ is opportunity for renewal

On June 16 of this year, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a “Year for Priests” to begin on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009, and to conclude on that same solemnity in June of 2010. The pope wanted to do this in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Cur√© of Ars, who is the patron saint of parish priests.
 

The purpose of the year in the words of the pope is “to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.”
 

Among the many ways in which Pope Benedict calls us to enter into this theme are: 1) prayer for a welcoming spirit for the ways in which the Lord is renewing the church; 2) a willingness to recognize with joy and foster diligently the many gifts of the laity; 3) reflection on the deep bonds that join priests to one another and priests to their bishops; and 4) a deep yearning to live in friendship with Christ through prayer and service in his name.
I am delighted that Pope Benedict has called us to this special awareness and activity. I do believe, judging from the reactions of our priests, that we all see it as an opportunity for renewal and deepening of our understanding of priesthood and as an invitation to live our vocation ever more fully and faithfully.
 

The pope’s initiative does not offer a set program to be followed in all dioceses. It does encourage all bishops and their brother priests to make every effort to enter generously into the spirit of this special year.
We have several built-in opportunities to do this: our diocesan retreat for priests, our annual convocation, support groups, occasional drop-in meetings I have with our priests, meetings of our Presbyteral Council, and days of prayer in Advent and Lent.
 

I have asked the Presbyteral Council and our Priestly Life and Ministry Committee to assist in making the year as fruitful as possible for all of us by suggesting ways in which we can explore the year’s theme in and through already existing opportunities, and by proposing special events in observance of the year.
 

You will read more about this in the September edition of the monthly Catholic Courier and in your parish bulletins. In the meantime, I ask you please to pray for priests all through the year. Pray for growth and new life for us all. Pray that we may have a generous spirit for service to the people among whom we are privileged to minister. Pray that we will have the faith, courage and patience to meet the pastoral challenges of a complex age. Pray that we will more and more root our lives and ministry in prayerful union with the Lord. Pray that we’ll know the joy of others stepping forward to succeed us.
 

Peace to all.

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