PRAY FOR CLERGY & FOR VOCATIONS
At this time of the year, I ask your prayers for our newly-ordained priests as well as those who are being transferred, retiring, or receiving additional parish assignments. Few of our priests have the luxury of staying at one place on a weekend. Typically, with other pastoral duties, the majority of our priests must drive to another city/to another parish and offer Holy Mass for a different community. While some of our parishes and missions are small, the size does not reflect the dedication they have for their parish or mission. Each year with the new assignments, I make people happy and I make people angry. This year is no different.
I recently mentioned to a concerned parishioner (not happy) that I have never been a parent and so I have no idea what it takes. I am always on the outside looking in. And the same applies to me as a bishop: No one can fully understand what is required (except Bishop Leibrecht). And lately, when some say “Bishop, I understand how difficult it is, …” I reply, “No, you don’t.” You can sympathize with me, support me, pray for me, yell at me – whatever your reaction may be, but no one fully understands except Bishop John Leibrecht. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy but simply to give an insight into the difficulties of trying to staff 66 parishes and 17 missions with the limited number of clergy. All the more, we must pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life to meet the religious needs of our diocese.
Having said this, I think everyone was thrilled with the recent ordinations of our three new priests, Fr. Hiett, Fr. Newton, and Fr. Peirano. Having all three ordained together was a huge boost for Catholicism in southern Missouri. It is typical for our diocese for each man to be ordained in his home parish but I asked the men to be ordained together simply to showcase vocations with the people of southern Missouri gathered in prayer. As always, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, under the leadership of Fr. Tom Kiefer, was the ultimate host.
On June 19, Father’s Day, we initiated the three-year Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. What is this Eucharistic Revival? At its basic level, the mission of the Eucharist Revival is to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. It is not a program, but an opportunity for Catholics across the United States. The hope is to rediscover the Eucharist as a place of true encounter, a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, the Body and Blood of Christ.
During this first year, 2022-23, the “Diocesan Year,” everything we do will be focused on our own encounter with the Eucharistic Lord. The following year, the “Parish Year,” 2023-24, we will look for ways to reach out to those who have fallen away from the faith from our local parishes and are no longer with us at Mass. I have asked all organizations to focus on the Eucharist for these coming years. Any parish mission, any speaker, any regional event, any gathering of youth, catechists, teachers, any parish Bible study or adult education event should be focusing on the gift of the Eucharist. The USCCB is offering “National Eucharistic” speakers to support the revival. Many resources are being developed at the same time as well. Many resources are available to parishes from the Franciscan University Online Catechetical Institute as well (which is free to all parishioners thanks to the Missouri Knights of Columbus). For more information, please consult the diocesan Website and search “Franciscan University,” at www.dioscg.org.
In the words of St. John Paul II, “May our adoration never cease.”