Catholic priesthood: June 2009 Archives

Fr Major Henry T Vakoc.jpgThe Lord called Father H. Tim Vakoc, US Army Major, to himself on June 20th.

Father Tim was a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and some have said that he was the first US priest killed as a part of the war. He was 17 years ordained a priest, living the last 5 years of his priestly witness recovering from injuries sustained in Iraq. Those injuries were suffered on his 12th anniversary of ordination. Among Father's awards he was a recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Father Tim was a member of the Knights of Columbus for 31 years.

Let us pray in thanksgiving for Father Vokac, for the his family, friends, caregivers and the US Army.

Well done good and faithful servant.
Abbot Giles with Frs Rembert & Beatus.jpgOn the eve of the Year of the Priest, you can see various celebrations recognizing the witness of priestly service in dioceses, religious orders and abbeys. The Benedictine monks of Saint Mary's Abbey (Morristown, NJ) recently celebrated the 50th anniversaries of two monks. In the photo you see Abbot Giles Hayes with Reverend Fathers Rembert and Beatus. Both monks have served the Lord and the Church for a long and courageous time. Both Father Rembert and Father Beatus have witnessed to Jesus Christ and his mercy in a variety of ways that have touched the minds and hearts of many people. Let me say that I enjoyed Father Beatus' preaching and his appreciation of art through history, culture and faith. Let us pray for these two monks and for all priests.

Divine Savior Jesus Christ, who has entrusted the whole work of your redemption, the welfare, and salvation of the world to priests as Your representatives, through the hands of your most holy Mother and for the sanctification of your priests and candidates for the priesthood, I offer you this present day wholly and entirely, with all its prayers, works, joys, sacrifices, and sorrows. Give us truly holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of Your divine love, seek nothing but Your greater glory and the salvation of our souls. And you, Mary, good Mother of priests, protect all priests in the dangers of their holy vocation and, with the loving hand of a Mother, also lead back to the Good Shepherd those poor priests who have become unfaithful to their exalted vocation and have gone astray. Amen.

(prayer composed by Dominican Father Peter John Cameron)
Priestly Ordination 2.jpgA recent article on who has competence to remove priests from ministry permanently is interesting and yet depressing. But it is a matter of reality that some men ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ do not remain priests. To think since the Second Vatican Council, as some researchers and commentators have  claimed, 100,000 priests have left their vocation as priests. If true, this fact is overwhelming to grasp.

One of my intentions is to pray for the priests who have left as well as though who currently serve as priests and seminarians preparing to be ordained. I am a bit selfish in mentioning the last intention since I fall in that category. Please join me in prayer in the coming year for these intentions.

That today is Thursday, the day of the Eucharist and the priesthood, I thought I would republish most of the recent letter of Archbishop Piacenza (Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy) who writes to the world's priests in view of the Year of the Priest. Reading the letter you see that he is right when he says that the holiness of priests is not for themselves, it is a sacrificial holiness, an offering with Christ, for the benefit of the entire Church. He writes to the priests: 

Christ the Good Shepherd BMurillo.jpg

Each day we are called to conversion, but we are called to it in a very particular way during this year, in union with all those who have received the gift of priestly ordination. Conversion to what? It is conversion to be ever more authentically that which we already are, conversion to our ecclesial identity of which our ministry is a necessary consequence, so that a renewed and joyous awareness of our "being" will determine our "acting", or rather will create the space allowing Christ the Good Shepherd to live in us and to act through us.

Our spirituality must be nothing other than the spirituality of Christ himself, the one and only Supreme High Priest of the New Testament.

In this year, which the Holy Father has providentially announced, we will seek together to concentrate on the identity of Christ the Son of God, in communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, who became man in the virginal womb of Mary, and on his mission to reveal the Father and His wondrous plan of salvation. This mission of Christ carries with it the building up of the Church: behold the Good Shepherd (Cf. Jn. 19:1-21) who gives his life for the Church (Cf. Eph. 5: 25).

Yes, conversion every day of our lives so that Christ's manner of life may be the manner of life made ever more manifest in each one of us.

We must exist for others, we must undertake to live with the People in a union of holy and divine love (which clearly presupposes the richness of holy celibacy), which obliges us to live in authentic solidarity with those who suffer and who live in a great many types of poverty.

We must be labourers for the building up of the one Church of Christ, for which we must live purposefully and faithfully the communion of love with the Pope, with the Bishops, with our brother priests and with the Faithful. We must live this communion with the unbroken pilgrimage of the Church within the very sinews of the Mystical Body.

We should be able to run spiritually in this Year with a "wide open heart" so as to inwardly conform to our vocation the better to say, in truth "it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

The holiness of priests redounds to the benefit of the entire ecclesial Body. Thus it would be most fitting for all of us, be that the ordained Faithful, seminarians, the male and female religious, and the lay Faithful, to find ourselves all together at the Vatican Basilica for the Vespers presided over by the Holy Father, which will be celebrated after welcoming the reliquary of the heart of that most outstanding priestly model who is St. John Mary Vianney.

Those who are unable to be in City of Rome are encouraged to join themselves spiritually to the occasion.

+Mauro Piacenza

Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana Segretario

I have to admit that I am not a frequent reader of the spiritual theology of Saint Josemaría Escriva but I am more and more interested in what he said because I think there is something that corresponds to my heart. Time will tell how he will affect my my life. 

Here the saint briefly speaks to the fact that we are called by the Gospel to conform to Christ --a message I tried to get across to the parish youth group. Of course, speaking of following AND conforming the self to the Will of God is a hard concept to get across to anyone let alone young people. As Christians we follow; we also closely adhere to the cross while looking to the resurrection. Be careful, you don't get the resurrection without the cross coming first.

Back to the saint's thought: Saint Josemaria said, for example, about the matter of sanctity and priesthood:

There is no second class sanctity: there is either a continuous struggle to be in the grace of God and conformed to Christ our model or we desert these divine battles. Our Lord invites everyone to sanctify himself in his own state. In Opus Dei this passion for sanctity--in spite of our individual errors and miseries--is not changed by the fact that one is a priest or a layperson. 

Saint Josemaría, Homily, Priest for Eternity, 13 April 1973

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Catholic priesthood category from June 2009.

Catholic priesthood: May 2009 is the previous archive.

Catholic priesthood: September 2009 is the next archive.

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