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By Richard Johnson, State Deputy
Throughout Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Knights of Columbus honor and share gratitude for our priests on Priesthood Sunday, Sept. 26.
Our diocese has been blessed in many ways this year. Bishop W. Francis Malooly ordained Father Michael A. Preston on May 22.
Bishop William E. Koenig was ordained and installed as the tenth bishop of Wilmington on July 13. Bishop Koenig subsequently ordained 15 men to the permanent diaconate on Aug. 7. And on Aug.13, we observed the inaugural Feast of Blessed Michael McGivney, a parish priest who founded the Knights of Columbus.
Priesthood Sunday is set aside to honor the priesthood in the United States. By reaffirming the priesthood of Jesus, it is a day to reflect upon and affirm the role of the priesthood as central to the life of the church. This day also specifically honors priests, without whom the Holy Sacraments could not be conferred, for a single day out of 365, which they tirelessly serve their parishes and communities. It is a day to pray for our priests, and to praise God for their vocation, fortitude and generosity.
Pope Francis said that a priest who is true to his vocation can be recognized by the joy he feels and brings to people…. Joyfulness in a priest shows he is doing well and looking at reality both with the eyes of a man and with the eyes of God. (reference – the joyful priest:)
Pope Benedict XVI stated that the essence of the priesthood is consecration, sacrifice, and the giving over of one’s self to God. It is through intimacy with God in relationship and dialogue that empowers the central task of the priest which is to bring God to men and women and to remind them of the ultimate purpose of their lives. (reference – The Priesthood: Spiritual Thoughts Series, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI)
St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars (the patron of priests): What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God – a man who is invested with all the powers of God. “Go,” said our Lord to the priest; “as my father sent me, I send you. All power has been given me in heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations … He who listens to you, listens to me; he who despises you despises Me.” The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ. (from “Catechism On the Priesthood”)
A parish priest of the 19th century, Blessed Michael McGivney, was a man of faith, thought and action. He had a vision for a fraternal society built on the principles of charity, unity and fraternity which became the Knights of Columbus. Today, your parish priest is similarly a man of faith, thought and action. His charism may be different than Father McGivney’s, but his vocation is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and spread his kingdom through the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy. How can you help make that become a reality?
A simple note, a smile or maybe even a phone call to assure him of your loving care and appreciation for his presence in the life of your local parish will go a long way to serve the greater good of our Catholic church.
Celebrate and thank a priest today.
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