Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
This Friday, June 19, begins the Year of the Priest, as announced by Pope Benedict XVI back in March. That means that for 10 days, between June 19 and 29, the Church is celebrating both the Year of St. Paul and the Year of the Priest.
What’s planned for the Year of the Priest? Many dioceses and seminaries are planning special events and activities to highlight the year. Here are some examples.
Because it’s the 150th anniversary of the patron of diocesan priests, St. John Vianney, many dioceses are planning events centered around his example.
The Archdiocese of Denver is kicking off the Year of the Priest with a special Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Charles Chaput, on June 21 at the Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. For that Mass, the archdiocese has taken an image of a statue of St. John Vianney from Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, which they’ll put on display along with a relic of the saint. They’re also creating a special holy card with the image and a prayer for priests that will be distributed throughout the diocese.
According to Archdiocese of Denver Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, the most important thing the archdiocese is doing is organizing Holy Hours in all of the deaneries of the diocese and inviting all the priests and the faithful in each deanery to come pray before the holy Eucharist.
“For priests, the most important act that he does every day is offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” said Bishop Conley. “Without the Eucharist, there is no Church, and without the priest there is no Eucharist.”
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis plans to place special emphasis on the sacrament of reconciliation, a trademark of St. John Vianney.
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary will be hosting a symposium in honor of the Year of the Priest, on Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the Knott Auditorium at Mount St. Mary’s. The symposium will feature speakers on various themes on priestly spirituality. At 4 p.m., the public is invited to “Vianney” — the one-man play by Leonardo Defilippis.
“The priests, especially in this country need a shot in the arm, both spiritually and emotionally,” said Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, rector at Mount St. Mary’s. “We’ve taken it on the chin for a number of years, and it’s time that we spend the year reinvigorating ourselves spiritually and re-energizing ourselves to be proud of who and what we are.”
For further information on the Year of the Priest, visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ special web page.