Letter to the Newly Ordained
Fr. Peter Daly
June 22, 2010
Fr. Peter Daly addresses a few words to the newly ordained.
††††††††††† This summer 440 men are being ordained to the priesthood in service to the Church. Welcome to the vineyard of the Lord! We need you.
††††††††††† There are many things that we older priests might like to say to our newly ordained brothers. But first and foremost we want to say thank you.
††††††††††† It is not easy to be a Catholic priest today. The recent clerical scandals have discredited us. They have eroded our self respect. But we are grateful to you for taking the risk of being a Catholic priest. ††
††††††††††† We live in an age of skepticism and cynicism. You are a man of faith. Right from the start that makes you out of place.
††††††††††† Many people will not believe in the value of our vocation. Even some members of your own families may question your decision. Donít be afraid. Godís grace will sustain you. Your parishioners will affirm you. What you are doing is noble and worthwhile. Have confidence in Christ who called you into His service.
††††††††††† Every age since has presented challenges to priests. It was not easy being a priest during the Roman Empire or the black plague. Priests were targets in the French revolution and under communism. Priests suffered greatly as missionaries. They continue to suffer today when they stand up for the poor and oppressed. Suffering comes with following Christ, the suffering servant.
††††††††††† Just love as Christ loved. Love the people God puts in your path. If you love them, they will love you in return.
††††††††††† Be kind. Bishop Fulton Sheen, a great priest of the last century, said there were three rules to priestly service: kindness, kindness, kindness.
††††††††††† You were ordained for people not paper. The diocesan paperwork can wait. The sick person canít.
††††††††††† Be humble. You wonít always have an answer for the problems of your parishioners bring to you. Sometimes there is no answer. It is frequently enough just to formulate the right questions. Just be present when they are suffering.
††††††††††† People want authentic wisdom. Work hard at preaching.
††††††††††† Preaching is the most important thing that you personally bring to celebration of the liturgy. Your people yearn for inspiration and wisdom. Donít feed them baby food. Do not use canned homilies. People can tell they are not your words. Donít talk down to your parishioners. Preach to the adults and bless children, not the other way around.
††††††††††† Read the scriptures and pray over them. That is the most important way we prepare to preach. †
††††††††††† Celebrate the liturgy with reverence and respect. Forget about the trivial stuff like what style vestments you wear. Jesus wouldnít care. He told us not to worry about what we wear. Just wear the vestments the parish provides.
††††††††††† Welcome people to the Church. Leave it open during the day so they can come in and pray. Sometimes they just want to cry out before the Lord. Sometimes you will need to cry out before the Lord too. †
††††††††††† Stay away from money. It is dangerous. Donít let money be the focus of your ministry. Let other people count the collection. Be a good steward of the churchís resources, but donít measure your success by the collections. Store up your treasure in heaven.
††††††††††† Donít be ambitious for higher office in the church. There is no greater calling than being a priest among the people. The best priests are humble, not ambitious. Pray for your bishop. †
††††††††††† Most importantly, pray. Pray every day. Pray without ceasing. Pour out your heart to God in prayer. †
††††††††††† There is much more to say.
††††††††††† But for now, I just want to say welcome and thank you!