This Sunday we celebrate Priesthood Sunday. Christ is the center, the standard, and the example of a priest’s life. Our priests seek to live, and to help others to live, an integral Christianity, convinced that only Christ can satisfy the deepest human aspirations. Our priests strive to be contemplative and conquering; leaders of souls, yet servants of all.
Catholics are invited to observe Vatican-backed worldwide events, namely, World Day of Prayer for Vocations and World Day for Consecrated Life. In the United States, we also have National Vocation Awareness Week and National Catholic Sisters Week. Priesthood Sunday, however, specifically honors priests, without whom the Holy Sacraments could not be conferred, for a single day out of the 365 days of the year during which they tirelessly serve their parishes.
More than the other events listed above, Priesthood Sunday is a more personal one for parishes and organizations with a chaplain, who cultivate close working relationships with their priests and therefore could benefit from a special day to express their gratitude. It’s a chance to unfold the creative expression, too, of the different arms of the parish community, who choose to thank and honor priests in unique ways.
It is essential to note that the number of priests and ordinations in the United States has steadily declined in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, the number of parishes without a resident priest pastor has sharply increased in the same period. The men who answer the call to priesthood are special indeed, and they are working harder than ever before.