.- The Catholic Church in England and Wales is beginning the celebration of the Year for Priests with a Mass at Westminster Cathedral and a call to pray for priests. Pope Benedict XVI will officially launch the Year for Priests on Friday June 19 during Vespers at the St. Peter's Basilica. June 19 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart and the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the “Cure of Ars,” who was a great saint known for his care for souls.
The Pope has also sent a letter to priests in which he praised the example of St. Jean Vianney. He also prayed to the Virgin Mary that every priest have a generous and renewed commitment to “complete self-oblation” to Christ and the Church.
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols will celebrate a Mass on Friday evening at Westminster Cathedral to launch activities for the year.
According to a press release, Archbishop Nichols said the Year for Priests would be a year “to appreciate our priests, to treasure their dedication and pastoral work and a year during which we will pray for our priests; that God will bless and strengthen them.”
Following the Mass, the book “Priesthood: A Life Open to Christ” will be launched. The book is a compilation assembled by Canon Daniel Cronin, and contains 78 articles on the priesthood written by bishops and priests from around the world.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales has created a website for the Year of Priests at http://ukpriest.org