In a reflection for the upcoming August 4 feast of the Cure d’Ars, who is also called St. John Vianney, Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz said this week that the first requirement of a parish priest is to be “an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ, because only a priest in love with the Lord can renew a parish.”
Delivery his remarks on local radio, Archbishop Arancedo said, “If I were asked which is the most important task of all the ones carried out by priests … I would say it is being a pastor, at the risk of sounding biased,” and he acknowledged, “I have a particular appreciation and esteem for this priestly ministry.”
“In the parish,” he continued, “a priest lives the mission of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, in a full and concrete way,” through which shines forth “the entire ecclesial dimension of the person and ministry of the pastor.”
In referring to priests as father, the archbishop said, the term acquires “all of its spiritual meaning and value.” He noted that the recent CELAM document from Aparecida looks to the pastor first and foremost in addressing the issue of parish renewal, saying he should be “an arduous missionary who yearns constantly to seek out the lost and is not content with mere administration.”
After noting that priests are entrusted with a parish to be “its own pastor,” Archbishop Arancedo said that that “means that we have an example of pastoral care in our parish priests.” “This relationship involves us and commits us as living members of the same community,” he went on. For this reason, “it’s not a one-way street that goes from the pastor to the faithful, but rather that other relationship of the faithful to their pastor is also needed,” he said. “They have been ordained at your service, they need your presence and collaboration,” the archbishop stated.