NEW YORK, FEB. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- When one priest
finds himself doing the work of three or four, practical
support is very much in order, says the director of
a Web site that facilitates idea-and-resource-sharing among clergy.
Father Alex Yeung
heads up ePriest, a site that offers resources for
priests, such as weekly homily packs, ideas for "best practices"
for running a parish, and a library of articles and
news for the ongoing formation of the clergy.
Epriest completed one
year online Jan. 1. The director reports the site has
subscribers in 30 countries, and had 5,000 hits to the
Web site in the last month alone.
Father Yeung acknowledges that
although nothing can replace the integral human and spiritual formation
of a priest in order to foster vibrant parishes, he
said ePriest can be a tool.
The Legionary of Christ
told ZENIT: "Electronic communication has proven to be an ideal
medium for certain types of services that benefit priests, especially
the sharing of pastoral ideas and initiatives.
"In a day when
priests on the front lines of the mission are doing
the work of three or four men, timeliness and practicality
are of the essence."
"But in the midst of the work,"
he added, "we must not lose sight of the spiritual
care of the priest himself. The ultimate efficacy of a
priest´s ministry depends on how united he is with Christ.
"EPriest is a tool that can help -- but never
replace -- the apostolic efficacy of a holy priest."
weekly homily packs offer what the site calls "ingredients for
effective homilies," tips on how to preach, as well as
Spanish-language homilies for priests working in parishes with a large
Father Dave Heney of St. Paschal Baylon Parish in
Thousand Oaks, California, a member of the site´s diocesan priest
advisory committee, told ZENIT that ePriest is ideal for what
it doesn´t do: "I think the most important aspect is
that it does not take away our responsibility as priests
to thoughtfully and prayerfully compose our own sermons. Some services
provide complete sermons which can induce a kind of ministerial
"I find the ePriest ideas to be ´idea-starters´ for me.
Most of the time, they simply get me started along
a certain path that might end up very different from
the lesson of ePriest, although it was certainly inspired by
EPriest subscriber Father John Bateman of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
parish in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, agreed: "EPriest is just the starter
I need to get ideas, an outline, then adapt the
text to make it my own."
The site also provides "best
practices" for running a parish. The profiles, updated weekly, offer
ideas that touch all sectors of parish life, such as
sacraments, outreach, faith formation, youth, attracting vocations and even administrative
topics such as finance.
The ideas are submitted by priests and
are based on ideas they have implemented and found successful
in their own parish. Each best practice is explained in
terms of how the idea came about, specific goals, practical
application and tips for implementation.
Father James Searby of
Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale, Virgina, submitted a best practice
on how he tripled attendance for a post-confirmation class. "We
needed a religious education system that was not just another
class," he wrote on the ePriest Web site, "but enticed
a commitment every Sunday evening to becoming crusaders for their
The idea he came up with turned a catechism class
into a training program, with the end goal being to
create a "Special Forces Evangelizing Team." He divided the participating
youth into units of 10-13 members, and created a group
and class dynamic that worked to keep the students interested,
and coming back.
Father Searby reported that attendance increased from 40
to 130 students in one year, and that the frequency
of confession and holy hour among the students also rose.
He added that a group of his students convinced a
local high school to include a section on religion in
"They are less afraid to be open about their
faith," the priest said.
Although Father Christopher Smith of St. Joseph´s
Parish in Palmyra, Missouri, says he doesn´t use all the
ideas, he told ZENIT that "the offering of ideas is
"The best practices help me to think through ways
I can adapt them to improve ministry in my parish,"
he said. "I read them over from time to time
and keep things ´cooking,´ knowing that they will eventually lead
Diocesan priest Father Lance Harlow of St. Charles Church
in Bellows Falls, Vermont, expressed appreciation for the brevity, practicality
and user-friendly layout of the articles. "I am not able
to spend much time at the computer, so I appreciate
the short articles and well-organized presentation.
"For busy parish priests, the
short, diversified and practical subjects are most appealing."
Father Severino Enopena
of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica in Manila, the
Philippines, added, "The challenging tasks of these times necessitate excellent
resources. In the ministry nowadays, we need to have this
kind of service."