Category Archives: Catholic priesthood

Spiritual Maternity for Priests

In early February, I mentioned the notion, the desire, perhaps even the ministry women can do for the spiritual wellbeing of priests. It is an idea that is growing in the Church and yet its importance is not being recognized by many bishops. However, Bishop Edward Slattery, bishop of Tulsa, inaugurated a work of spiritual maternity for priests in the Tulsa diocese on March 24th. The good part of this work is the on-going formation. Father Mark Kirby writes about it on his blog.

Pope announces Year of St John Mary Vianney 2009-2010

St John Mary Vianney.jpgOn the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Saint Curé of Ars, John Mary Vianney, His Holiness announced this morning that from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010, there will be a special Year of the Priesthood under the theme of “Fidelity of Christ, fidelity of priests.”


During this Jubilee Year Benedict XVI proclaimed Saint John Mary Vianney “Patron of all priests of the world.” He will publish a Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors together with a collection of writings of the Supreme Pontiff concerning the essential themes of the life and mission of the priesthood today.


The Congregation for the Clergy together with the diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes will collaborate in promoting and coordinating the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that concern the importance of the life and mission of the spriest in the Church and in contemporary society, the necessity of competent permanent formation of priests and seminarians.

The Pope will opens the special Year on 19 June with Vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica where the relics of the saintly ‘Cure of Ars’ will be brought by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France. The pope will conclude the year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a “World Meeting of Priests” in St. Peter’s Square.


A video clip of the announcement from H2O News.

Priests according to the heart of Christ

PNAC Seminarians.jpg“For all of us, the seminary was a decisive time of discernment and preparation,” he said. “There, in profound dialogue with Christ, our desire to be deeply rooted in him was strengthened. In those years, we learned to see the Church as our own home, accompanied by Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our most loving Mother, always obedient to the will of God. […]


“To have priests according to the heart of Christ, confidence must be placed in the action of the Holy Spirit, more than in human strategies and calculations. […] On the other hand, the need for priests to address the challenges of today’s world must not lead to the abandonment of a painstaking discernment of the candidates, or the neglect of necessary  –even rigorous– demands, so that their formative process helps to make them exemplary priests.


New Iragi priest.jpg“Today more than ever, it is necessary that seminarians, with the right intention and beyond any other interest, aspire to the priesthood moved solely by the will to be genuine disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ who, in communion with his bishops, make him present with their ministry and witness of life. Of great importance for this is being very attentive to their human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation, as well as the adequate choice of their formators and professors, who must be outstanding in their academic capacity, their priestly spirit and their fidelity to the Church, so that they can instill in the young men what the People of God need and expect from their pastors.


(Pope Benedict speaking to the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America 20 Feb 2009)


The video clip of the Pope’s speech is found here.

Father, son and Holy Church

Ruth Gledhill of the Times Online (of London) posted this story today on a very unique circumstance: a father & son who poped and are now Catholic priests. 


In what is believed to be a first, a father and son, both former Anglican clergy, have been ordained as Catholic priests and are now working for the same archdiocese, Birmingham.


Father & Son Poped and ordained.jpgFather Dominic Cosslett, 36, and his father, Father Ron Cosslett, 70, were both ordained by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, pictured above by Peter Jennings. Nichols is the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster when he steps down early next year and the latest ordination of Father Dominic on 20 December shows he is continuing in the tradition of true Catholicity to which the British church has so long been witness.


Father Dominic was formerly an Anglican priest at the Church of Christ the King at Lourdes in Coventry. His father, Father Ron Cosslett, aged 70, also a former Anglican priest, was ordained as a Catholic priest by Nichols 3 July 2005. He is now priest-in-charge at St Joseph’s, Darlaston in the West Midlands.


Father Dominic, who is not married, has from a young age felt called to a celibate lifestyle. “Although as an Anglican marriage was open to me the way I live my life is naturally a celibate one,” he told me yesterday. His mother converted five years ago at the same time as his father and his sister and their children followed them over about a year ago.


Father and son concelebrated, celebrating the eucharist at the older Father’s parish, for the first time at Christmas.


“Both of us were in the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism,” said Father Dominic. “Like a lot of us in that tradition, we had always felt the Catholic Church was the rock from which we were hewn. It was always part of our journey, our faith, to seek unity with Rome. We came to the point where we felt we could not exercise our understanding of Catholicism within Anglicanism. It was time for us to go home.”


His father started out in Monmouth, South Wales and then moved to Burslem, one of the Five Towns in the Potteries in the Lichfield diocese. The family returned to Wales and his father’s last Anglican parish was St Paul’s in Swansea.


royal Eng College Valladolid.jpgUnder the guidelines agreed in the Catholic church for the reception of Anglican clergy who wish to become Catholic priests, Father Dominic, who studied theology at Llampeter and trained for the Anglican priesthood at the high church Mirfield College of the Resurrection before being priested in 1997, underwent a shortened training as to be a Catholic priest. He spent a year in the Spain at the
Royal English College at Valladolid and then went to seminary at St Mary’s Oscott.


As an Anglican, he served his curacy in Abergavenny in the Monmouth diocese when his bishop was Dr Rowan Williams, now Archbishop of Canterbury.  He moved to his own parish in the Birmingham diocese when its bishop was Dr John Sentamu, now Archbishop of York. He speaks highly of both men, but neither was enough to make him stay.


“I realised my own journey was to seek unity with Rome. Balanced with that was the awareness that the Anglican Church was going in a very different direction with various decisions it was making. I just felt I could not agree with those decisions. It comes down to authority. As an Anglican, it was sometimes very difficult. One parish might believe one thing, another might believe something else.


“There is an incredible rainbow of thought in the Anglican Church. Perhaps I was looking more for a central authority of teaching that the Catholic Church has. It was something I had always been looking for.”


He recognises his situation, with his father as a priest, might appear unusual to some but for him it feels normal. There is a long tradition in the Anglican church of father-and-son priests. The ministry often runs in families.


Asked whether he believes all Catholic priests should be allowed to marry, he said: “That is not my decision. The teaching of the Church is there. The Holy Father has graciously allowed those who are former Anglicans who are married to become priests.  The teaching remains the same and that is certainly not for me to comment on.”


But he was careful to emphasise that his new path was not a reaction against Anglicanism.

“Becoming a Catholic is not so much about being disatisfied with being an Anglican as about having a positive engagement with the Catholic Church. I am very grateful for my Anglican days. But I realised there is something else in the Catholic Church. That is very much what lay behind my decision.”


Vincent Nichols Arms.jpgArchbishop Nichols, in his words of welcome at the start of the ordination, said: “This situation a unique occasion and a great day in the life of the diocese.  Both a father and his son – after his ordination – will be serving as Catholic priests.”


More than 60 Catholic priests, including Father Dominic’s father, witnessed the ceremony.


Archbishop Nichols continued: “Just as the Angel Gabriel told Mary, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow’, so also this will manifest for Dominic.


“How else, except through this gift could Dominic ever make Christ present in the life of the Church? It is the same gift given all those centuries ago in Nazareth that is given in Coventry today.


“It is only our unity in the Church which ensures that we are faithful to what we have been given. This Ordination is part of a great Tradition – a great handing on – from one age to the next of his gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.


“Indeed, this sense of Tradition is crucial – Apostolic Tradition. The vital question for all of us and for Dominic is where is it to be found?


“We rejoice in the answer during this Ordination Ceremony. It is to be found, with utter reliability, in union with Peter the first Apostle, and in union with his Successor the Bishop of Rome.


“It is this visible unity which gives the Church the sure capacity to be faithful in the Apostolic Tradition; to hand on whole and entire, and to explore and develop its Doctrine in a faithful and secure manner. This unity is a great joy and a pearl of great price.


“So today we thank God for Dominic’s life and ministry as a priest in the Church of England. We rejoice as he steps into the priesthood in this full Communion of the Catholic Church through his ordination in this visible Apostolic Tradition.”

Retreat for Priests in 2009

Each year, just after Easter, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete and Communion and Liberation
Thumbnail image for l_albacete.jpgleads a retreat for priests. This year’s theme is
“Priests of the New Evangelization.” In 2009, the retreat for priests is being held at The Malvern Retreat House (Malvern, PA) from 13-17 April 2009.

Yes, it is very early to think about events in 2009. But sit too long on making plans for your retreat in 2009 and you’ll miss a great opportunity to meet the Lord and to be guided by Msgr. Albacete. Act now!!!!

The notes from the 2008 retreat are now available. Visit the CL webpage.

What is Communion and Liberation? In short, CL is a group of friends seeking the face of Jesus and working out their salvation, as St. Paul says, together. It is an ecclesial movement founded by Monsignor Luigi Giussani in 1954 and officially approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982; it is made up of laity, priests and sisters.


img_vita21.jpgThe essence of the charism given to Communion and Liberation can be signaled by three factors.


·         first of all, the announcement that God became man (the wonder, the reasonableness, the enthusiasm for this): “The Word was made flesh and dwells among us.”


·         secondly, the affirmation that this man – Jesus of Nazareth dead and risen – is a present event in a “sign” of “communion,” i.e., of unity of a people guided, as a guarantee, by a living person, ultimately the Bishop of Rome;


·         thirdly: only in God made man, man, therefore only in His presence and, thus only through – in some way – the experienceable form of His presence (therefore, ultimately only within the life of the Church) can man be truer and mankind be truly more human. St Gregory Nazianzen writes, “If I were not Yours, my Christ, I would feel like a finished creature”. It is thus from His presence that both morality and the passion for the salvation of man (which is mission) spring up.


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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