This weekend marks Father’s Day – the day we pause to pay tribute to the men who grilled our hotdogs until they were black, cheered as we wobbled on bicycles, guided us through spiritual trials and dating disasters and labored hours with us over math homework.
In many ways, the spiritual roles of our priests parallel those roles of our dads. A priest didn’t stand behind us while we rode our bikes, but they have stood behind us as we’ve wobbled through life, offering counsel when we’ve fallen. They may not have listened to stormy outbursts after a break-up or hurtful situation, but they have listened to us pour out our hearts in Confession, giving healing through absolution. They’ve given their entire lives in service to us – their spiritual children – through the administration of the sacraments, in particular through the true spiritual food of the Eucharist.
Last year, Pope Benedict XVI declared June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010, as the Year for Priests, and asked bishops to “promote and to coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that seem useful for making the importance of the priest’s role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived.” While the “role and mission in the Church” of priests are many, one facet can encompass many of them – the aspect of spiritual fatherhood.
That the Year for Priests occurred in conjunction with news of sexual abuse in the universal church cannot be forgotten. We lift all those impacted in prayer, especially those abused by men who violated the priesthood in such an unimaginable way.
Further, this year offered us the opportunity to recognize the priests who labor faithfully every day, often sacrificing much for their people. Through the distribution of prayer cards, the offering of spiritual bouquets and holy hours, participation in the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the National Shrine in Washington, DC, and our Year for Priests video series, parishioners across Northern Virginia took part in the Year for Priests.
As this jubilee year draws to a close, take a moment to review this popular video series in which we invited parishioners throughout Northern Virginia to thank the priests who have touched their lives. Just as children and parents come from all walks of life and backgrounds, so do the experiences of our priests and their spiritual children.
- A young scout praising his parish priest for trekking through the woods to say Mass for his troop.
- A freshman at James Madison thanking her pastor for his advice during her college experience away from home.
- A seminarian who received inspiration from a priest’s commitment to youth.
- A mother of two young children who was grateful her pastor baptized her son during Mass and presented him to the Church family as its newest member.
- An engaged couple warm in their praises for the marriage prep they received.
These testimonies and many more, truly illustrate the love for our priests in the hearts of over 428,000 Catholics here in the Diocese of Arlington. Enjoy these videos and take a moment to pray for priests and promote vocations. Happy Father’s Day to our spiritual fathers!