Did you know that June 19th officially kicked off celebrating a Year for Priests? I am so excited! Why? Well, because we just happen to have several priest who are very dear to my family's hearts. I can't wait to find little ways to celebrate their wonderful 'yes' and their vocation to the priesthood.
Perhaps this much exuberance from a married woman toward celibate, single men sounds a bit weird. And really, it wasn't until I just typed it that even I found it sounding a bit odd. Really though, rest easy. I am happily, faithfully married. And hey, my husband was in the seminary once! Ok, now it's getting worse..there's a name for women who steal men away from seminary's (I won't share it here), isn't there? Rest assured, hubby was only in the seminary for one year and he was out of it for five years before we met.
Priests probably became close friends in my family sometime around my teen years and for a number of reasons. One reason would be that around that time, my parish was blessed to have two wonderful priests assigned to our cluster of several area Catholic churches. One of the priests was 'older' and the other 'younger'. Both were full of wit and wisdom and they spoke from the pulpit like I had never heard before in my life. They had a lot to say and I enjoyed listening every Sunday! These men quickly became guests at our family table and at our family functions.
Another reason that priests have been a prominent part of my life, would be that my brother entered the seminary and pursued it for 4 1/2 years. With all of the time my family spent visiting him a couple of hours away in the seminary, priests became very much a part of our lives.
Then of course, Reed and I are particularly indebted to two certain priests since they are the reason we are together today. It was through them that we met and well, the rest is history. To this day, those two special men remain a huge influence in our lives and in the lives of our children as well.
I must say, that I perhaps have gotten a rare glimpse into the priesthood. I have been unusually blessed by being surrounded by some of the most faithful priests there are. They have blessed our home with laughter, prayer and encouragement. There have been many times that Reed and I have counted our blessings and realized that we have wonderful friends in such men as these.
I've also seen the 'human' side of these chosen men as well. When they have been discouraged, felt unloved and misunderstood, when they have struggled with their vocation, when they have been hurt by the harsh words of a parishioner. These are the reasons that we will be celebrating the Year of the Priest in our household. We will try and honor these men who have diligently and faithfully followed their call and their vocation as a Catholic priest.
They need our support and encouragement. A kind word. A thoughtful card. Our prayers. Try to find a way to celebrate your parish priest or other local priests this year. Remind them how much they are appreciated and loved and thank them for their faithful service to the Catholic church.
PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
Praise to you, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in your infinite love you care for your people by the ministry of priests. May their faithful service bring lasting good to your Church and great happiness to them. Help them to do what is right, that by their teaching and living we may grow in the knowledge of your love. As our priests instruct your people, enlighten them with the wisdom of Christ the Teacher. As they preach your Word and celebrate the Sacraments, sanctify them with the holiness of Christ the High Priest. As they face weakness, suffering and discouragement, strengthen them with the grace of Christ the Life-Giver. As they work for peace, unity and healing in your Church, uphold them with the courage of Christ the Reconciler. Giver of all good gifts, make the ministry of our priests a spiritual offering pleasing to you, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.