Faithful Line Up to Support Priests

Recount Expectations for Year Celebrating Priesthood

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By Carmen Elena Villa

ROME, JUNE 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- When Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year for Priests last Friday, Juan Caballero, an Argentinean husband and father of four, was in the audience. “All of what is most beautiful that my family has experienced […] is due to priests,” he said. “How could I fail to participate in the inauguration?”

Caballero was one of the participants that ZENIT tracked down at the ceremony presided over by the Pope at St. Peter’s Basilica. With the vespers service on the feast of the Sacred Heart, the Bishop of Rome set off the yearlong celebration of the priesthood.

“Through these ‘other Christs,’ I receive the Eucharist and reconciliation, which give me strength to continue with my work, as a father and head of a family, as a professional. So I ask myself […] how could I not intensify in this year my prayer for those ‘good shepherds’ who give their lives for their sheep,” Caballero said.

His sentiments were echoed by many of the participants at the inaugural celebration.

Father Paul Marie, from the community of the Work of Jesus, High Priest, told ZENIT he believes this time will be very positive for him and his brothers.

“I believe we are all hoping for a lot, especially in these hard times when the press attacks our image, when there are discouraged priests who sometimes feel abandoned,” he said. “But when we find ourselves in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the feast of the Sacred Heart […] the conviction is fortified and strengthened that the priest has the most beautiful vocation possible.”

Legionary of Christ Brother Carlos Ranninger is readying to receive that “most beautiful vocation.” He and 50 or so classmates will be ordained this December.

“This year will be a reinforcement for our vocation,” he said. “The Pope proposes for us in the holy priest of Ars a model who really gave his whole life for his parish, who has loved Jesus Christ is a most intimate way. This is what we youth who are going to be ordained in this generation are seeking.

“We know that many people will be praying for us, that many are going to be reflecting on what the priesthood is and what role we can play today. […] We know that God is very willing to give many graces to those who are priests and those who want to support the priesthood.”

Offering that support is Sister María Leticia of the Community of the Incarnate Word. She told ZENIT that this year will be “a renovation of the priestly life in benefit of the whole Church.”

“We have begun the Year for Priests as we always should,” she said, “praying for priests who need the support of the whole ecclesial community.”

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