On the Year of the Priest
To the Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful of this Archdiocese
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has recently announced a Year of the Priest, which he himself will inaugurate on the 19th of this month, the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and conclude on June 19, 2010, with a World Day of Priests, to be celebrated in Rome. This Year of the Priest is being called to commemorate the 150th Death Anniversary of Saint John Marie Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, whom Pope Benedict intends to proclaim, during this Jubilee Year, as the Patron of all the world’s priests.
Disclosing his intentions to declare the Year of the Priest at a meeting with the Members of the Congregation for the Clergy, the Pope referred to the deep-seated concern and struggle for moral perfection that dwells “in every truly priestly heart.” With this in mind, the Holy Father stated that this special Year was being called “in order to encourage the striving for spiritual perfection of priests, on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends.” The Year is also intended as an opportunity to strengthen the communion and friendship that exist between priests and the communities entrusted to their care and thus to help the Church appreciate increasingly the role and the mission of the Priest in contemporary society. For this reason it will be, in a special way, a year of prayer by priests, with priests and for priests, a year for the spiritual renewal of the Presbyterate of the Catholic Church and of each priest.
Echoing the sentiments of the Holy Father and joining with the Universal Church, we too would like to celebrate the Year of the Priest in our Archdiocese in a befitting manner. Since the event is being held on the occasion of the Jubilee Year of the saintly Curé of Ars, celebrations will take place throughout our Archdiocese in the coming month of August, on or around the 150th anniversary of St. John Vianney’s birth to eternal life (August 4th). We have entrusted our Diocesan Committee for the Ongoing Formation of Priests with the task of devising and implementing an effective programme for the whole Year of the Priest. We call upon all the Priests, Religious and the Lay Faithful of this Archdiocese to earnestly pray – individually and in community -- that this Year of the Priest may bring abundant fruit in the life of the Church in Goa.
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate this special Jubilee Year, let us invoke the intercession of all the saints who were privileged to share in the Priesthood of Jesus during their earthly life, in a very special way, St. John Vianney and our very own Blessed Joseph Vaz and Venerable Agnelo de Sousa. May they guide the Church, particularly in this Archdiocese, to enthusiastically support and encourage ordained ministry and help our priests to rededicate themselves, heart and soul, to their mission in the Church and in Society.
Archbishop’s House, Panjim, Goa, June 6, 2009.
( + Filipe Neri Ferrão)
Archbishop of Goa and Daman