"He could not only pray for them and offer their blessing from the outside, but then he could be with their families who are right outside the window beside him," Kartje said.
"You know, these are just heartbreaking cases of grown children and grandchildren, their hearts aching to go inside and be with their loved ones. And here's an elderly priest who can provide real ministry and solace to the family, as well as providing prayer and blessing for a person who's inside the nursing home and not able to receive visitors."
Another submission of a hero priest is Father Christopher DiTomo, who served in Elburn, Illinois during the pandemic. Besides hearing confessions outside in the elements and live-streaming Masses and prayer services, DiTomo also drove the Blessed Sacrament around his parish and held a Palm Sunday procession.
"He brought Jesus to the streets of Elburn for over four hours on foot to people who were unable to attend Mass due to restrictions, and to a people who were starving for the Lord, both physically and spiritually," Theresa Carter wrote of DiTomo in her nomination.
"He brought people a glimpse of hope and peace at a very scary, uncertain time. He was all in at all times to help ensure his flock were spiritually nourished during this proverbial wandering in the desert," she added.
Kartje said that while there have been several submissions of priests in the area of Chicago, the campaign is open to submissions of priests throughout the country.
Parishioners who would like to honor their priests may fill out a questionnaire located on the seminary website through Sept. 14.
On Sept. 17, a small ceremony will be held at the Rector's Classic Golf Outing in Mundelein, with a few local priests who will accept the honor on behalf of all of the nominated priests.
"The extraordinary times we're living in obviously put a spotlight on the work these priests are doing, but as I'm sure many of your readers know, even outside of such extraordinary times, there are just thousands and thousands of good priests doing the work of the Lord," Kartje said.
"We certainly appreciate them, and it's humbling and an honor for us to be able to hold up some of these men's stories in gratitude."
Mary Farrow worked as a staff writer for Catholic News Agency until 2020. She has a degree in journalism and English education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.