March 26, 2010
A Priest Forever: nine signs of renewal and hope
By Br. Benet S. Exton *

By Br. Benet S. Exton *

Alfred McBride, O.Praem. Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2010.  ISBN 978-0-86716-954-6 $12.95

This book by Norbertine Fr. Alfred McBride is an encouraging book for today’s priests, many of whom are overworked, getting older, and fewer in numbers. “A Priest Forever” is a source and encouragement for priestly renewal. The book focuses on the role and person of the priest and addresses a variety of corollary topics.

Throughout the book, Fr. McBride encourages priests to be more attentive and aware of what they are doing when celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. He also reminds them to make some time every day for prayer. Another thing he touches on is a reminder to include social justice in the priestly ministry, but not to let it be the center of their ministry. The focal place of a priest’s ministry belongs to Christ, says Fr. McBride. He suggests that priests mix Catholic social teachings with what they say and do.

McBride captures his audience by using quotes from various saints, popes as well as ordinary priests and people. He also utilizes relevant stories to augment the point he is making in any particular chapter.

An important aspect of the book is that it reminds both priests and lay Catholics of the true identity of the priest: that he is set apart from amongst God’s people in a special sacramental way. Priests should not be ashamed to be identified as a priest, he says. McBride also gives some suggestions on how priests can improve on their preaching and encourages them to cultivate a devotion to the Mother of God, which can be of great help to priests. The vow of chastity, which is under attack in the media again, is also discussed.

Fr. McBride concludes on a positive note. He says that the priesthood is being renewed and that gradually more young men are answering the call of Jesus to the priesthood.

The book can be read quickly. However, the best way to read it is at a slow, reflective, meditative pace. Fr. McBride’s work is not overly deep or academic work. Yet is it not overly simplistic either. 

In light of the recent sexual abuse scandals and media hyperactivity in attacking the priesthood and the Church, the timing in publishing this book is perfect.

Fr. McBride’s book can be used in a group study setting, a group retreat or alone. He provides questions at the end of each chapter for reflection, which is also very helpful. This book would be good for priest support groups, a priest alone, or others who support priests in their ministry. This book is a great encouragement to priests!

Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.
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