Families, as well as individuals, are being asked to adopt one of the 278 priests serving the diocese; to pray for them and remember them with a card on their birthdays and anniversaries of ordination.
Dr. Helen Scieszka, family and married life director, said there were two related reasons for this special program: Both praying for priests and offering them spiritual support, as well as encouraging families to pray together.
“In the letters we send to families,” said Scieszka, “they are encouraged to pray in many different ways. It could be as simple as a Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be together as they go out the door in the morning, or praying a rosary together at night.”
“In one family,” she added, “the daughter said she is going to offer a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament for their priest.”
The Year for Priests begins on June 19, the feast of the Sacred Heart, a day of sanctification for priests. It will end on June 19, 2010, during a World Meeting of Priests at the Vatican.
While the Adopt of Priest program does not officially start until June 19, it has been announced in parishes, on the diocesan Web site and on Relevant Radio. Scieszka said 180 priests had been adopted, as of June 8.
“We have been very pleasantly surprised by the response,” she said. “And all of us taking the e-mails and phone calls here have been very moved by how excited the families are to be praying for a particular priest. They’re just honored that they can do this; that has been said over and over again.”
There’s no need to worry that, if you don’t act quickly, you won’t get a priest. Scieszka said that she hopes to have as many families as possible praying for each priest.
“Four to five families praying for each priest would be wonderful,” she said.
Besides the name of their randomly chosen priest, families will receive the priest’s birth date, date of ordination, a prayer card and a summary of the life of St. John Vianney. This French priest is the patron of parish priests and Aug. 4 will mark the 150th anniversary of his death. During this Year for Priests, Pope Benedict will proclaim John Vianney – also known as the Curé d’Ars – as the patron saint of all the world’s priests.
Scieszka said praying for priests is important “because they need our prayers to lift them up to the station to which they have been called. Priesthood does take a lot. The priests do need our prayers to remain holy and spiritual leaders.”
The adopted priests will also receive the names of the family who is praying for them. One of the retired priests who has been adopted already contacted Scieszka.
“What a wonderful idea,” he wrote. “I was uplifted when I was chosen to be adopted. I thought I was forgotten.”
To adopt a priest, contact Helen Scieszka, P.O. Box 23825, Green Bay, WI 54305-3825; call toll-free: 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8310; or e-mail [email protected]