As the Catholic priesthood--wracked with sexual scandal and debate over the nature of the vocation--faces criticism from many in both the secular and Catholic world, one Denver couple is trying to build up and encourage area priests--calling on the laity for support.
Bob and Mary Dalton, who live in a suburb south of the city, began the “Prayer for Priests” program when they realized the daunting task of guiding their flocks through the current culture.
“I don’t know exactly where the idea came from,” Bob Dalton told the Denver Catholic Register. “Mary and I just wanted to figure out a way to get more prayers said for them.”
As the program is structured, lay participants are each given the name of a priest to pray for daily and write occasional letters of encouragement.
“All we asked for was a daily commitment,” Bob Dalton said. “We weren’t asking for a daily rosary or an hour of adoration: just a short prayer.”
The two-fold goal of the program is first, to assure prayers for every priest in the archdiocese, and second, to let the priests know that they are supported and being prayed for.
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput commended the couple on their endeavor. He said in a letter to the Daltons that, “Prayers for our priests are extraordinarily important. Thank you for your support and commitment in encouraging our people to do that.”
The response, Bob told the Register, has been “more than we hoped for…and more people continue to ask how they can be a part of it.”
When the couple began their project, 250 priests were listed in the archdiocese directory. Today, they estimate that between 600-700 faithful are praying for priests daily.