Prayers for priests are lifted and encouraged at Holy Hour

Photo Caption: Megan Gilbert of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights touches the reliquary containing a bone fragment from St. John Vianney, the patron of priests, at the end of the Holy Hour.

By: By Jennifer Willems

If the name of every priest in the Diocese of Peoria wasn’t lifted up in prayer during a recent Holy Hour sponsored by the Bishop’s Commission on Women, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Pastors, parochial vicars, hospital, high school and Newman Center chaplains, friends and the chief shepherd of the diocese, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, were named aloud by the people gathered in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel at the Spalding Renewal Center in Peoria. The Holy Hour was held on Aug. 4, the Memorial of St. John Vianney, who is the patron of priests and parish clergy.

Father David Whiteside, the commission’s spiritual director, made a relic of the saint available for veneration during the evening, which included exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. The prayer for the priests was led by Connie Ley of Historic St. Patrick Parish in Bloomington, where a similar Holy Hour is held on the second Sunday of each month.

“I don’t think anyone here needs to be convinced that our society and our world are becoming more and more hostile toward our faith and for its priests, so we really need your prayers,” Father Whiteside said.

He suggested that if everyone went back to their parishes and started a monthly Holy Hour for priests, they would be able to fill the chapel next Aug. 4.

“We could make this an annual visit and keep building more and more groups of pray-ers for priests,” he said, before blessing them with the first-class relic of St. John Vianney.

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The Holy Hour grew out of an ongoing discussion about “spiritual motherhood” the Bishop’s Commission on Women has had. The group invited Ley to lead the prayers and offer an introduction to the topic.

“In terms of praying for priests, I’m assuming you’re here because you probably regularly pray for priests on your own, but it’s nice to have a support group and the Lord likes to hear our voices joined together when we’re making our petitions,” Ley told them.

Spiritual motherhood is a vocation that involves consecration and must be discerned, she explained. Much like earthly mothers do, spiritual mothers nurture, pray and sacrifice for the priests they have adopted.

“It’s hard for a day to go by for me when I don’t think of something it and makes me pray and it makes me offer something up,” Ley said. For example, she has back pain and whenever she feels a twinge, she offers it up for a priest who has had back surgeries.

Ley said anyone interested could find more information in “Adoration, Reparation and Spiritual Motherhood for Priests,” a 2007 document issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy.

She encouraged them to pray for priests in their families or to establish a prayer chain in their parishes, where everyone signs up for an hour of prayer in their homes or church. Ley said 1 p.m. on Tuesday is when she takes time for prayer and reflection.

“It’s an easy thing to do,” she said.

Deena Pavinato, chair of the Bishop’s Commission on Women, said members would continue to pray about this as they consider the next step and invited those in attendance to do the same.

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