A calendar to direct prayers during Year for Priests
Editor’s note: We give this week’s editorial space to enthusiastically promote an idea developed by Father James King, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria who is presently on leave of absence for health reasons. A Peoria native who was ordained in 1992, he has served in several parishes, including as pastor of Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur, and St. Mary’s, Moline. He was diocesan coordinator of Hispanic ministry from 1996 to 2000, and has served in Hispanic ministry in both the Peoria and Quad Cities regions.
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Since June of this year we have been observing the Year for Priests in the Catholic Church. It is interesting to note that Pope Benedict called this the Year for Priests and not “Year of the Priest.” In other words, this year is set aside as a year for the whole church to support and encourage priests.
One of the most important ways that we can support priests is through our prayers. The fruit of prayers for priests is holier priests and a stronger church.
The following prayer calendar for priests is one way we can prayerfully remember priests. One prayer intention for priests or future priests is assigned to each month of the year. While the Year for Priests began in June 2008 and will end in June of next year, this calendar, if one began to follow it now, would take one beyond the Year for Priests in June of next year. But that’s OK. The idea for the Year for Priests doesn’t seem so much to be to remember priests for just a year, but rather to increase awareness in the church of the need to pray for and support our priests at all times.
The suggested prayer intentions are as follows:
JANUARY: For young clergy (those ordained 10 years or less).
As we begin a new year we remember the most newly ordained.
FEBRUARY: For sick priests and those who are on a leave of absence.
In February we observe World Day of Prayer for the Sick. This is a fitting time to remember ailing priests in our prayers.
MARCH: For priests who are especially burdened, tempted, lonely, isolated or persecuted.
Usually during all or most of March we are observing Lent, a time when we recall our Lord’s fasting in the desert and the temptations he underwent. This is a fitting time to remember priests who are enduring heavy burdens or temptations.
APRIL: For priests who have left the priesthood or who are no longer permitted to serve as priests.
Holy Thursday and Good Friday are usually in April. On these days our Lord was abandoned by most of his first priests, the Apostles. And yet, with the exception of Judas, they were all later reconciled with Him. During this month we can pray that all those who have left the active ministry, and yet are able to return, might return, and that the Lord might sustain those who are no longer permitted to serve in an active ministry so that they will continue to live out their priesthood in a real but hidden way.
MAY: For those to be ordained to the priesthood.
In our diocese May is traditionally the month when men are ordained to the priesthood. In this month we can pray for those preparing to be ordained in our diocese and throughout the church.
JUNE: For new pastors and those beginning new assignments.
June is traditionally the month in our diocese when priests begin new assignments. At such times priests are especially in need of and grateful for prayers.
JULY: For an increase in vocations to the priesthood.
Every year in July the Office of Vocations for our diocese sponsors Emmaus Days — a camp for boys and young men that encourages them to consider if they might have a vocation to the priesthood. This is a fitting month to pray for more priestly vocations in our diocese and throughout the church, and in a special way for the young men participating in Emmaus Days.
AUGUST: For the sanctification of priests.
The feast day for the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney, is on Aug. 4. This is a fitting time for us to pray that all priests will be conformed to Christ in their thoughts, words, and actions.
SEPTEMBER: For seminarians.
In their first full month back in the seminary, we can remember all seminarians and in a special way those from our own diocese.
OCTOBER: For the unity of all priests with their bishop and with one another.
In this month of the Holy Rosary we can pray that all the priests of our diocese will be united to our bishop and to one another as the beads of a rosary are united on a chain.
NOVEMBER: For the souls of priests who have died.
In this month when we pray in a special way for the faithful departed we can pray for all deceased priests, particularly those who have played a significant role in our own lives.
DECEMBER: For senior priests.
As we draw near to the end of the year, we can remember the many older priests who have served the church so well for so many years and now either because of age or ailments are no longer engaged in full-time ministry.
Beginning in October, I hope to include a prayer each month in The Catholic Post based on the corresponding prayer intention of this calendar. — Father James E. King