IEC2012 Blog

Treasure your priests – they are an awesome gift from God!

Posted by Fionnuala Dunne, June 13, 2012 at 15:30

Sr Briege Mckenna & Fr Kevin Scallon gave a wonderful workshop on their ministry of caring for priests. Luckily the hall holds over 300 people as this was a very popular workshop. Fr Scallon opened the talk by noting with great humour that he is sometimes known as either Fr McKenna or Fr Briege, due to the great popularity of Sr Briege. God in the Church raises up people with special gifts to minister to his priests and this is very much what He does in the persons of Sr. Briege and Fr. Scallon.

Fr Kevin recounted a couple of anecdotes about what the priesthood means to the people. One story was of a priest who arrived in a remote parish in Ireland, and who asked a couple of parishioners what they wanted him to do for them in the parish. They were a little confused by the question and after a short reflection replied: ‘Just be there.’ It was his presence alone that was required, his presence as the person of Christ in their midst. Another story was from when he worked in Biafra, Nigeria. During the great troubles and famine there, a lot of people had died. A woman who had lost her husband and children turned up at the mission looking for some sustenance. On receiving some food from him, she proceeded to dance and sing. It turned out that she was doing it in order to thank God for him. For her, she said, that very day he was Christ, feeding her and saving her.

The basis of his talk was that the very essence of what it means to be a priest is to make Jesus Christ present. We as the laity have to look beyond the humanity and weakness of the person and see Jesus Christ in the priest. He said it was important in their (Fr Kevin & Sr Briege) ministry of caring for priests to bring them to the knowledge of the priests’ divine calling. He spoke of how priests must be converted to their priesthood and to believe in their calling. The laity needs to encounter Christ and it is the priest who brings Christ to them as the priest is constantly encountering Christ through the sacraments, the doors to Christ.

He finished by telling the audience, particularly the Irish laity, of the great work that priests and religious have done for them and the world. He stressed how important it was that we pray for and love our priests. To priests he said, be united to the Church, love and support the bishops, and understand the weight of the cross they carry. This is a time for solidarity not disunity. Sr Briege expanded on this by saying that the bishop should be a father to the priests and not desert them when they stray from the flock.

Sr Briege carried on this theme of caring for the priesthood in the light of the many attacks that have been made on the priesthood. She was blessed with a vision of what the priesthood actually is and what an awesome task they have been given. They have been entrusted with our souls. The priesthood is God’s gift to the church and as such we should have a great love and respect for them. She went on to say God will always give vocations to his people but they must be nurtured and brought forth. Priests are not perfect, she said, neither were the apostles, however it was Christ who chose them and who now chooses the priests. So as the laity, we should pray for our priests, particularly say Rosaries for them, and we can also make reparation for the sins of priests.

If Christ is present in the priest, we encounter Him in their presence, but how much more so when we receive Him into ourselves in Holy Communion.

And of further interest, given the theme addressed by Fr Kevin and Sr Briege, Pope Benedict XVI, at the end of his catechesis in the Vatican this morning, dedicated the following remarks in honour of the Eucharistic Congress by saying:

The Congress "is an important opportunity to reaffirm the central place of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. Jesus, Who is truly present in the Sacrament of the altar, with the supreme Sacrifice of love on the cross gives Himself to us, He becomes our food in order to assimilate us to Him, to bring us into communion with Him. Through this communion we are also united among ourselves, we become a single object in Him, members of one another.”

We are united with the priests through this communion. They sacrifice their lives to serve the body of the church. We are one body, so we must respect this body as we would our own. Vocations come when we love and pray for our priests, so it is the responsibility of the laity to care for our priests.

As a member of the audience commented during the Question & Answer time, “we wouldn’t have the Eucharist without the priests. So treasure them – they are an awesome gift from God!”



Kevin says:

Fionnuala - thanks for letting your web visitors know about this. I can't be there today, so it's great to be kept up to date with the talks there. All you bloggers are doing a fantastic job -- I, for one, appreciate it!

Posted on : 13/06/2012

Pauline Sandbergpaulinesandberg says:

Perhaps it is Ireland who will lead our Catholic family in that Great Springtime of Evangelization Amen

Posted on : 13/06/2012

monica whelan says:

we, irish people must pray for our many many wonderful priests, support and respect them , maybe then young men would consider entering the priesthood.

Posted on : 13/06/2012

Rita Keyes says:

A large crowd was disappointed that they could not access Sr. Briege & Fr.Kevin's talk. Such a pity. They carry such a significant message. Would it be possible that the Arena be used to repeat their talk in the coming days? Elsah

Posted on : 13/06/2012

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