WASHINGTON – On June 24, the Catholic Church will celebrate World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. Established by Saint John Paul II in 2002, this celebration occurs annually on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, the Church encourages priests to prayerfully reflect upon the gift of their vocation. The faithful are also invited to mark this celebration by praying for all priests that they may live lives of holiness and fidelity to Christ and his Church. Priests were not spared from the effects of the pandemic on their lives, so this year is again a good time to pray for our dedicated priests who creatively reached out to care for the faithful during this challenging time.
Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of initial and ongoing formation in the life of the priest: “Precisely for this reason, it [ongoing formation] cannot be a limited task because priests never stop being disciples of Jesus, who follow Him. Sometimes we proceed with celerity, at other times our step is hesitant, we stop and we may even fall, but always staying on the path. Therefore, formation understood as discipleship accompanies the ordained minister his entire life and regards his person as a whole, intellectually, humanly and spiritually. Initial and ongoing formation are distinct because each requires different methods and timing, but they are two halves of one reality, the life of a disciple cleric, in love with his Lord and steadfastly following Him.”
In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations said, “The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus gives us a special opportunity to continue our prayers for our priests. May and June are traditionally when ordinations to the priesthood are celebrated. With many priests celebrating anniversaries, this annual day of prayer is significant. This year, it also marks the official promulgation of the sixth edition of The Program of Priestly Formation in the United States of America. I am grateful to all of those who assisted in drafting and reviewing the document for their diligent efforts; this new edition will guide diocesan and religious seminary formation programs for years to come. The CCLV committee is also currently developing the second edition of the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests to provide priests with rich spiritual and practical insights to benefit them and their sacred ministry and assist in the ongoing renewal of their commitment to lifelong formation as envisioned by Pope Francis. We pray that this will help foster renewal in all our priests.”
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the intercession of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, imbue all priests with his grace, strengthen their hearts, and renew them in their vocation to image Christ, Head and Shepherd, Servant and Spouse. Amen.
Resources for supporting the life and ministry of priests are available on the USCCB website: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/priestly-life-and-ministry
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