In response to a call from Vatican II for priests to share a common life, four seminarians for the Archdiocese of Denver have decided to begin a priestly community that will eventually be opened up to any priest or seminarian in the archdiocese.
Currently, the Companions of Christ is an association of seminarians established in the Archdiocese of Denver. Once the four founding men are ordained, they will live together as priests in a rectory close to their pastoral assignments in the Archdiocese of Denver.
The priests will strive to live with three emphases: “Observance of the evangelical counsels in the context of the diocesan priesthood, commitment to a common life of prayer and fraternity, and dedication to the New Evangelization, including catechesis, spiritual renewal, and the fostering of vocations,” according to their website.
The Companions of Christ have already received the blessing of the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput who established the fraternity “canonically” on December 12, 2007, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“Our priests today face immense challenges: larger parishes, fewer priests to assist them, and a more secular culture that is at times hostile to both the Gospel and the priesthood,” said the archbishop. “Grouped in rectories in various parts of the Archdiocese, they strive together for the ideal of the priesthood, giving mutual support and holding each other to a strict accountability.”
Noting the difficulties priests face, Father Michael Glenn, Rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary added, “All priests want to live a committed and zealous life, but the demands of ministry, human weakness and the difficulty of their work can often discourage them, revealing a life far different than what he expected while in the seminary.”
The Companions of Christ will directly address the problems priests are currently facing and will offer encouragement. “Fraternal life offers unity in prayer and identity, as well as strength and support for Christ’s mission. God has truly blessed us with a model of life that will help Companion Priests and many others to be holy, joyful, and healthy shepherds in their service and leadership of God’s people. Nothing promotes vocations, invites to prayer, or enlivens a parish more than dynamic, fulfilled priests who love the life they live. Strengthened as brothers in Christ, priests are ready to step forward in leadership for the New Evangelization.”
Companions of Christ is comprised of four Denver seminarians: John Nepil, Matt Book, Brian Larkin, and Mike Rapp who will be ordained in the next two or three years.
Plans for the group began after one seminarian learned about a similar community in St. Paul, Minnesota. The seminarians there “insisted that it wasn’t a new idea, just something that had been lost, that the Church was seeking to recover.”
After years of prayer, three other seminarians were drawn to the idea of the fraternity. “The four men spent the next year together quietly praying and sharing meals, all the while fully immersed in the life of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.”
Since the announcement of the community, the Companions of Christ have been received with support and encouragement.
More information can be found at www.denvercompanionsofchrist.org.