Monday, June 04, 2007

presbyteral assembly

Last weak, May 28-31, I was honored to attend the Archdiocese of Louisville's annual Presbyteral Assembly. This is a gathering of, theoretically, all the priests of the Archdiocese and, as I understand it, focuses on a different theme each year. Each day there is morning prayer, Mass, and evening prayer with a couple conferences and free time throughout. This year over 100 priests attended and , like last year, it was held at Saint Meinrad in rural Southern Indiana. Even though its out in the middle of nowhere, they have beautiful grounds, facilities, and accommodations.

This year the focus was on the USCCB's program for promoting vocations to the Priesthood: Fishers of Men. Some of you may have seen the Fishers of Men video (watch part of it online here) from Grassroots Films. I personally think it is excellent, effective, and inspirational. Here is a brief description of the program:
The Bishops' Committee on Vocations presents a program for priests to actively invite men to consider a vocation to the priesthood. This program is entitled Priestly Life and Vocations Summit: Fishers of Men. This project is a presbyteral workshop which utilizes the appreciative inquiry method of asking priests about their most positive experiences in the priesthood.

It is the hope of the Bishops’ Committee on Vocations that this project will bring about a renewal of the priests in the United States and also lead to the regeneration of priesthood itself. This presbyteral workshop is based on interviews with priests. The actual convocation with the priest includes their testimonies of positive priestly experiences, establishing strategies for promoting priestly vocations, and creating a structure within the presbyterate for inviting men to consider the priesthood.

The conferences and small-group discussions covered the results of the inquiries, interviews, and testimonies. We indeed came up with strategies for promoting priestly vocations and for creating a culture of vocations. I hope our conclusions materialize.

Other than being a part of this "summit," I also greatly appreciated all of the support I received. There were so many priests I did not know or had only heard of by name. I was glad to be able to meet more priests and for them as a body, to get to know me. Many priests from across the spectrum showed me, personally, their heartfelt support and appreciation.

Fr. Ron Knott, a Louisville priest and founding director of the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates at Saint Meinrad, gave a wonderful presentation on the identity of today's seminarian, how to reach out to and "recruit" them, and on the importance of their continued formation from seminary into their vital first five years of ordination. I hope to obtain a copy and post it here. I felt like he described seminarians nowadays very accurately. He quote/unquote "told my story" to the Louisville presbyterate. I hope that from this they can understand me and other guys discerning the priesthood a little better.

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