Recently at the Church of Saint Paul several people got together and decided that we should do something at our parish to celebrate the year of the priest. So, we prayed about it and thought about it and came up with a way to pray for all the priests who were associated with our parish. Anyone who has ever come here to do a mass, former pastors, as well as our bishop, archbishop, etc. It took a bit of time to compile the information. We sent out questionnaires to these priests for some biographical information. We scoured the internet and former archdiocesan publications for their pictures. We then created prayer cards. Each Family Formation class received a prayer card and each student will take a priest prayer card home with them. We encourage the classes and families to pray for these priests, even to write them letters, which we will collect and mail to them. Our priests need our prayer and support, especially now days. This is a great way to keep them in our prayer, make them more personable for our children, and foster vocations. Below is the letter we sent to teachers describing the project. Please feel free to use this as a stepping stone to start a similar project. I will tell you one thing we have noticed immediately; it really made us appreciate our priests more, what they do for us, the lives of sacrifice the lead, and how much they enjoy our love and prayers.
The Year for Priests
This March, Pope Benedict XVI pronounced the upcoming year to be one in which we focus in a special way on the gift of the priesthood. This “Year For Priests” began on June 19 and will last until that same date in 2010. These significant dates give us clues to the Holy Father’s hopes for this year. The celebration began on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day in which we particularly focus on the abundant love God has for all mankind. What a great gift He has given us in the priesthood through which we receive the love of Christ each time we receive a sacrament – a sacrament administered by a priest! The year concludes on June 19, 2010 which is the 150th anniversary of the death of Saint John Mary Vianney. This holy priest is known as the patron of priests throughout the world because of his ardent love for celebrating the sacraments; in particular, he would often hear confessions for 16 hours a day and his gift of being able to read the truth on people’s souls led to many conversions.
In your classroom
We are asking you and your students to pray for the specific priest featured on the prayer card that has been given to you. The Family Formation classes will be praying for 28 priests who have a special connection to the Church of Saint Paul. We are praying for those priests who lead our retreats, are here for Vacation Bible School, fill in for celebrations of the Holy Mass, and the many who serve us by hearing confessions. In addition, we are praying for the priests who are members of the Companions of Christ, along with Father Jon. The particular way each priest is connected to the Church of Saint Paul is listed on his card. As part of this intercessory prayer, each class will also pray for Father Jon, Father Tim, and the leaders of this archdiocese.
The most important feature of your card is the prayer on the front. Praying for priests is our gift back to them in gratitude for all the wonderful ways they serve us. Please pray often for the particular priest on your card, for the priests who lead our diocese (Archbishop Neinstedt, Bishop Pichè, and Father Laird), and for the past, present, and future priests who lead the Church of Saint Paul. Many of the priests, when hearing of this project, expressed their gratitude for this gift. Your prayers are important to them!
Several priests were able to answer a few biographical questions. Their answers, when available, are on the back of your card.
November Family Formation –
Introduce this topic to your class. Share information about the priest that has been assigned to your class. Pray for this priest during each class time throughout the year. For younger grades, you may want to say part of the prayer or a familiar prayer such as the “Hail Mary” or “Our Father.” There is a prayer card for each of your students. You may send it home with them so they can continue to pray for the priest at home also.
December Family Formation
– You may want to provide an opportunity for your students to write an encouraging note to the priest assigned to your class. You may drop it off in the Family Formation office by December 11. We will then pass your notes on to them. A few guidelines:
1. make sure the priest’s name is clearly printed on it,
2. cards, letters, or pictures only please (we will not be able to send gifts)
3. and please don’t expect a response.
Again, thank you for your prayers and for every way you honor all the priests in your life who work so tirelessly to bring Christ to you!
Yours in Christ,