BOSTON, Massachusetts, JUNE 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop
of Boston is calling for a renewal of
the priesthood by means of a stronger prayer life and
a corporate sense of identity and mission.
Cardinal Sean O´Malley affirmed this earlier this month
in a presbyteral convocation for the inauguration of the Year
Nearly 400 priests attended the
gathering to prepare for the year, which began
Friday, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St.
John Vianney, the Curé d´Ars.
highlighted the saint´s example, and his work in
a situation that, "humanly speaking, seems impossible," with the
"indifference, hostility, cynicism in a post-French Revolution world where
the culture had been turned upside down."
The prelate added, "In many ways the state
of crisis in the Church in his day parallels the
challenging situation the Church faces in today´s world."
He continued: "There were so very
good mentors in John Vianney´s life, holy priests who reached
out to help this rather lackluster cleric of
limited abilities. The encouragement and good example of
these holy priests set him on a path that led
to his own transformation and that of his
Cardinal O´Malley added that these mentors
are needed today as well, to help new priests learn
He also pointed out St.
John Vianney´s love for the people he was
sent to serve, "even when they didn´t like him, or
were totally indifferent, or when they openly opposed
"He knew instinctively that his principal
task was to rescue the lost sheep who far outnumbered
the saved ones," the cardinal added.
was the saint "driven by a desire for
popularity," he affirmed.
Cardinal O´Malley continued:
"Part of the identity of a diocesan priest
must be love for his people. Not a
love that is self-seeking or narcissistic, but a love that
translates into an overwhelming desire to help people
know God and experience his love.
desire to help people lead a good life that
will prepare them for eternal life by living
a life of faith. Our faith is not baggage that
burdens, but is a wing that lifts people
up and leads to true happiness."
that the priestly celibacy "must be able to
express our pastoral love."
The cardinal explained:
"For a diocesan priest, celibacy means a special fatherhood,
a life-giving love for our people.
make so many sacrifices to feed, clothe and
educate their children so the priest, a spiritual father, makes
countless sacrifices for the people God has entrusted
to him to ensure their salvation."
announced a campaign that will take place during this
priestly year called "Leaving the Lights On," which will
include having confessions available on Wednesday evenings during
Advent and Lent, as well as a promotional
program to prepare for the reconciliation.
encourage our Catholic people to reconnect with this
sacrament of the Lord´s mercy," the cardinal explained,
and as priests, "this sacrament must be a part
of our own spiritual journey."
Cardinal O´Malley expressed
the hope that all priests will model the
Curé d´Ars and Padre Pio in their love for the
confessional "as the throne of God´s mercy and
an expression of our own pastoral love for
God´s people and our desire to see them live graced
lives in God´s friendship.
He also encouraged the priests to follow St.
John Vianney´s example as a "teacher of the faith," and
to take advantage of opportunities to "mentor new
disciples in the faith."
The cardinal continued:
"Our own life of study, ongoing formation and personal reflection
help equip us for this challenge.
"We must help people see how the various
aspects of our faith are interconnected and how they flow
from Christ, who is the Head of the
"We must first help people to know
Christ, to experience his love, and then the
hard words of the Gospel become the yoke
that is sweet and the burden that is light."
He affirmed that the" role of piety
and devotion in the life of the Church cannot be
overlooked as we try to help people have
a personal relationship with the Lord," because a
"religion that is too cerebral fails to touch people´s hearts."
The prelate urged the priests to "commit
more time to prayer," to make a "game plan,
a rule of life that ensures that we make
time and space for God in our lives."
He continued: "The breviary, daily Mass, some meditation should
be the centerpiece of a priest´s spiritual life.
Marian devotion and Eucharistic piety are also essential
for the priest.
"Our yearly retreat and yearly
check up with the doctor is the way
we responsibly take care of ourselves. And to
neglect either is an egregious mistake. I can think of
nothing that could excuse one from these minimal
kinds of self-help."
Cardinal O´Malley encouraged a
"return to the ancient theology of a presbyterate -- an
intimate sacramental brotherhood, which has been replaced by
a strong notion of individual ministry."
continued: "We must develop a corporate sense of
priestly identity and mission. We must become men of communion."
The cardinal affirmed that "the more we
become friends, and the more we become focused
on Christ and on the mission of announcing the good
news of building a civilization of love, the
more Christ´s Church will flourish."
the priests to use this year to "repair our nets
together -- and prepare for the miraculous draught