He bestowed on him the priesthood of his people. Sirach 45:7
Every once in a while, I like to use this column to let you know what is going on in the world of training future priests and supporting active priests. You have a right to know because it has a direct impact on you and our parishes.
In January, I taught a week-long “presbyteral theology” course for the first theology class at St. Meinrad Seminary. In February, we hosted a week-long program for priests who were ordained last Spring.
The following week, we hosted another session of our World Priest program for priests entering U.S. dioceses and who need to be acclimated to American culture. Last week, I taught a class for second theology seminarians on “successful strategies for living alone.” (Seventy percent of them are expected to live alone after ordination.)
This week, I am in the Diocese of New Ulm, Minn., delivering eight conferences to the bishop and his priests on building their unity as a presbyterate.
Throughout the rest of the year, I will repeat those conferences for the bishops and priests of San Jose, San Bernardino, Lansing, Des Moines, Syracuse, Altoona-Johnstown and Metuchen. In between those, I will make presentations in Toronto and London, Canada. Next year, I will go to Boston, Jefferson City and Saskatoon-Prince Albert, Canada. I am now way beyond 100 of these in six countries.
When I get back from New Ulm, we will be hosting another World Priest program, our sixth. These programs are always challenging because of all that these priests need to learn and inspiring because of their awesome courage and generosity.
The week after that, we will be hosting our first brain-storming session of recently retired and about-to-be-retired priests and bishops in preparation for designing a new program called Encore Ministries. With 50% of all American priests scheduled to retire in the next six years, we simply must be more creative and imaginative for our sakes and yours.
Besides a report, this is a request for your prayers. I am attaching a copy of a prayer I put together a few years back. Clip it, save it and pray it regularly.
A Catholic’s Prayer for the Priests of the Diocese:
Loving God, I ask for a special blessing on all the priests of my diocesan presbyterate.
Help them to remember always that they do not work alone, but that they are an “intimate sacramental brotherhood” under the leadership of our bishop, a ministry team for which they are all responsible.
For the sake of their unified and coherent ministry, help them to remember that the ministry they do is not theirs alone, but a share in our bishop’s ministry. For that reason, keep them always respectful of and obedient to his leadership.
Help them to be diligent in their ministry, absorbed in it, so that their commitment may be evident and their service helpful.
Inspire them to take good care of themselves and help them be attentive to becoming more effective in their service.
Show my fellow Catholics and me ways to encourage our priests – those who offer priestly service to us in the Church. Help them to set a good example for us in all that they do.
Support our sick, retired and absent priests with your loving care.
I ask this in the name of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Father J. Ronald Knott