Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was ordained a priest June 29, 1951, in his native Germany. This year marks the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
To honor the pontiff and this milestone, the Vatican Congregation for Clergy is encouraging Catholics worldwide to participate in 60 hours of eucharistic adoration to pray for the sanctification of the clergy and the gift of new priestly vocations.
“To have a spiritual observance of the Holy Father’s anniversary is significant; 60 years of priestly ordination is an important milestone,” said Deacon Charles Parker, director of liturgy for the Denver Archdiocese. “For the Holy Father to then turn that anniversary into something greater for the universal Church shows his ultimate care as the supreme shepherd of the Church for the flock entrusted to him.”
To mark the event in the Archdiocese of Denver, 60 hours of eucharistic adoration will be hosted over five days: June 27 (feast of Sts. Peter and Paul) through July 1, from 6 a.m.-6 p.m.; with the exception of June 29, when hours will be 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to accommodate family and work schedules.
The devotion will be held in the historic Christ the King Chapel at the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary on the campus of the John Paul II Center at 1300 S. Steele St. in Denver.
“It seemed fitting that we pray before the Blessed Sacrament for the gift of new vocations at one of the seminary chapels where the men are formed,” said Deacon Parker, adding that it is a rare opportunity for the public to visit the chapel.
“The seminary chapel isn’t always accessible to the public,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place to pray; and to take advantage of coming to the seminary to pray in an exquisite chapel for this cause is an opportunity that doesn’t happen very often.”
Following 6 p.m. Benediction on Monday, June 27 and Friday, July 1, Deacon Samuel Morehead, a seminarian at St. John Vianney, will provide 30-minute tours of the chapel.
The 8,000-square-foot chapel was dedicated July 17, 1931, in a ceremony presided by Bishop Urban J. Vehr, installed as bishop of Denver the preceding day. In 1989 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Chapel architect Jules Benoit Benedict, who also designed Denver’s Holy Ghost Church and the boathouse at Washington Park, regarded the seminary chapel as “his masterpiece.”
The architectural style of the classical Roman basilica is described as Lombard, conforming to the Romanesque style in Lombardy in northern Italy. The chapel is known for its brick tapestry walls and German stained glass windows, including 14 windows in the nave that reflect teachings about the priesthood.
The daily devotions will open at 6 a.m. with solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and devotional hymns; at 10 a.m. recitation of the rosary; at 2 p.m. eucharistic reading; and close at 6 p.m. with solemn reposition and Benediction.
The exception is Wednesday, June 29, when the schedule will be as follows: 9 a.m. exposition and hymns, 2 p.m. rosary, 6 p.m. eucharistic reading and 9 p.m. reposition and Benediction.
“We hope that people come throughout the five days,” Deacon Parker said. “It’s a significant event in the life of the Church and a moment of profound grace for all of us to come together and to pray—when we don’t have priests, we don’t have all the sacraments.”
The concluding day, July 1, is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and World Day of Prayer for Priests. For the occasion, the U.S. bishops designed a prayer card that can be downloaded at www.foryourvocation.org. Copies of the prayer card will be available at Christ the King Chapel during the devotion week.
Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo.