By John Norton
Every spring and fall, we publish a special section on priestly and religious vocations. This fall's section, which you can find on Pages 9-20, focuses mainly on priestly vocations, considering we're several months into the Year for Priests called by Pope Benedict XVI.
One of the stories there charts a welcome uptick in seminary enrollment in the United States. Another tells of the not uncontroversial return of more than half a dozen high school seminaries around the country.
Don't miss the center-spread poster by our team designer Lindsey Luken, which aims to be your indispensible guide to the Year for Priests (see Pages 14-15).
With all of the clergy scandals of recent years, some of us may have placed, even unintentionally, some psychological separation between ourselves and the ministerial priesthood. The Year for Priests can help restore some balance. The ordained priesthood -- as flawed as its members are, and have been since the apostles -- is central to Catholicism.
Pope Benedict addressed that point in a recent speech to Brazilian bishops in Rome for their regular reports to the Vatican:
"The truth is that the greater the faithful's awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community, witness to the authenticity of the faith and dispenser of the mysteries of salvation in the name of Christ the Head."
"The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist," the pope said. "For this reason it is vital to ask the Lord to send workers for his harvest; and it is necessary that priests express joy in their faithfulness to their identity."
There are a couple of other resources for the Year for Priests that I'd like to point out.
First, be sure to add www.priestyearnews.com to your regular Web surfing. It is a blog maintained by OSV presentation editor Sarah Hayes that regularly showcases the most relevant, interesting or even entertaining stories about priests, vocations or the Year for Priests.
Also, Our Sunday Visitor has published two prayer cards for this year, one which is general and one which focuses on promoting vocations. (To preview the prayers, see the poster, Page 14.)
For a free copy of each card, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to this address: Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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