Our Holy Father Benedict XVI has declared that, beginning on the feast of the Sacred Heart on June 19, the universal Church will celebrate the Year for Priests. As with last year’s celebration of the Year of St. Paul, the Pope is asking everyone in the Church to reflect on the great gift of priesthood and to pray especially for the sanctification of all priests.
The Holy Father has likewise made the decision to declare St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, as the universal patron of all priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the saint’s death.
This year of grace and prayer gives us all an excellent opportunity to discover anew the beauty and importance of the priesthood and of each priest. This will be of great importance to the priest himself in his quest to strengthen his understanding of his identity and hopefully to spark a deeper sense of enthusiasm and zeal for the work of building up the kingdom of God. This celebration will also be important for all members of the Church to grow in appreciation of the gift of the ministerial priesthood to God’s people.
Here in South Carolina our priests work very hard in ministry. Almost every priest must fulfill obligations to many ministries — sometimes pastoring multiple parishes or missions, always giving generously of himself to the sick, the imprisoned, the impoverished, the suffering.
Our priests work way beyond the typical retirement age for a priest and oftentimes remain present to their people even in times of personal hardship or sickness. They certainly need our prayers, our support, our affirmation, our understanding.
It is my personal hope as well that this year of grace inspires more and more of our young people to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit to give their lives to God’s people as priests.
This focus on priesthood will hopefully encourage all Catholics to develop vocations, to support our young people who consider priesthood and to pray for our seminarians.
I ask every parish, every school, every prayer group and organization in the diocese to make prayer for priests a regular part of their gatherings during this year. There are indulgences granted during this time and the Holy Father requests special monthly exercises of devotions.
Please join with me as we embrace this unique and special year of grace.
+ Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone
Diocese of Charleston