From the Bishops More info on the Year for Priests

I’ve noted that parish bulletins are making reference to the special Year for Priests inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI on June 19 with a grand celebration held in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. You may recall my column in the June 14 issue of The Catholic Moment was dedicated to this papal initiative. I indicated that a committee under the chairmanship of Father Brian Dudzinski, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Fishers, would be formed to plan diocesan events during the Year for Priests. That committee is now in place. It is composed of Father Don Gross, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Fowler and St. Mary Parish in Dunnington; Father Dennis O’Keeffe, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Zionsville; Father Josh Janko, associate at St. Alphonsus; Father Jeff Martin, associate at All Saints Parish, Logansport; and Father Don Eder, one of our senior priests.

The committee has chosen as the theme for our celebration "The Priesthood is the Fidelity and Love of the Heart of Jesus." This theme draws on the reflections of St. John Vianney, who coined the phrase "the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." St. John Vianney is the patron of all priests. The Holy Father has proclaimed this special year to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of John Vianney, who is considered the model and protector of priests.

In issuing this call, the pope has explained that he wants to emphasize the faithfulness of Christ and the faithfulness of priests. Christ was faithful to the Father. All priests should strive to be faithful in their priesthood to the mission of Christ and the Church. The hope is that this special focus on priesthood will help all of us, priests and laity alike, discover anew the beauty and importance of the priesthood and of each priest. If at the end there has been a deepening of the spiritual-theological understanding of the priesthood and its pastoral mission and if priests renew the consciousness of their own identity, it will be successful. The Holy Father urges priests to become completely enthralled by Christ.

The formal kickoff of our diocesan observance will take place at St. John Vianney Parish in Fishers on Sunday, Aug. 2. Because it is our newest parish, it does not yet have a church. The celebration has been scheduled for Hamilton Southeastern High School, where Sunday Mass currently is held. The feast of St. John Vianney falls on Aug. 4, a Tuesday this year, but the inaugural event has been scheduled for Aug. 2 in the hope that "pilgrims" will come from all parts of the diocese.

Mass will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m. Immediately after Mass, there will be an opportunity for Eucharistic adoration until 7:15 p.m. The heart of the priesthood is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist. The committee hopes emphasis on the Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will set the tone for the year. As an opportunity for adoration is provided in a specially arranged worship space within the school, there will be food, refreshments and various activities outside the school for folks of all ages.

Hamilton Southeastern High School is located at 13910 E. 126th St., Fishers, IN 46037 (the corner of 126th Street and Olio Road).

The planning committee has recommended that pilgrimage sites be established in each of the six deaneries of our Local Church. Ideally, the pilgrim parishes will be those dedicated to a priest saint. In the Carmel Deanery, that would be St. Alphonsus in Zionsville or St. Louis de Montfort in Fishers or St. John Vianney. In the Anderson Deanery, it would be St. Ambrose in Anderson or St. Paul in Marion. In the Fowler Deanery, it could be St. Augustine in Rensselaer, Sts. Peter and Paul in Goodland, St. Charles in Otterbein or St. Patrick in Oxford. In the Lafayette Deanery, St. Bernard in Crawfordsville, St. Boniface in Lafayette, St. Francis Xavier in Attica or St. Thomas Aquinas in West Lafayette might be selected. In the Logansport Deanery, it could be St. Patrick in Kokomo, St. Charles in Peru, St. Peter in Winamac or St. Francis Solano in Francesville. Just one parish in the Muncie Deanery is dedicated to a priest saint, St. John the Evangelist in Hartford City. St. John, of course, was one of the 12 apostles.

In the meantime, the USA Council of Serra International, as well as Worldwide Marriage Encounter, are promoting "Priesthood Sunday" on Oct. 25. The goal of the Serrans is to bring together parish communities to recognize, thank and celebrate their priests with a special Mass and other activities designed to help parishioners appreciate the service their priests provide. It’s seen as an opportunity for a faith community to make a unified statement of gratitude. The call of Worldwide Marriage Encounter is to affirm men who commit their lives to the Lord in the Church through the sacrament of holy orders.

The planning committee will provide priests and parishes with collateral materials and suggestions which they hope will enhance participation for the greatest number of people in our Local Church. The hope is that each parish will form a committee to make their parish more aware of the Year for Priests and the gift of the priesthood, which is not only for the priests, but for all the faithful.

Suggestions will include: spiritual bouquets for current priests of "your" parish or throughout the diocese; letters of appreciation sent to priests; pulpit exchanges; Eucharistic adoration; acts of charity in honor of a specific priest; study groups/Bible studies; highlighting priest saints throughout the year, etc.

Indulgences have been granted for the Year for Priests. The usual conditions apply: reception of the sacrament of reconciliation within several days before or after the prescribed "work," Mass, prayer for priests, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.

The Year for Priests indulgence may be obtained on the feast of St. John Vianney (Aug. 4), on the first Thursday of each month and/or when visiting one of the pilgrimage sites. Those fulfilling the conditions can seek the indulgence by attending the kickoff at Hamilton Southeastern High School on Aug. 2.

An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven. Given proper dispositions and when certain determined conditions are fulfilled, the Church, as minister of redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints (Enchiridion).

Article 1472 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an important reference point: "To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the ‘eternal punishment’ of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the ‘temporal punishment’ of sin."

The recommended prayer for priests is: "Dear Lord, we pray that the Blessed Mother wrap her mantle around your priests and through her intercession strengthen them for their ministry. We pray that Mary will guide your priests to follow her own words, ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (Jn. 2:5). May your priests have the heart of St. Joseph, Mary’s most chaste spouse. May the Blessed Mother’s own pierced heart inspire them to embrace all who suffer at the foot of the cross. May your priests be holy, filled with a fire of your love seeking nothing but your greater glory and the salvation of souls. Amen."

St. John Vianney, pray for us.

Printed with permission from the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.

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