Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Convocation

     Most Dioceses have gatherings for priests at least periodically, and we in the Diocese of Greensburg just gathered for the 2012 Priests' Convocation at the Chestnut Ridge Conference Center in Blairsville, Pennsylvania in our Diocese.  This two day conference over a three day period is an annual event that gathers all of the active priests serving in the diocese to pray, reflect upon aspects of priesthood, prepare and plan for the future, and take care of necessary business.  We began with lunch on Monday of this week and ended with lunch on Wednesday.  The theme was Pastoral Formation for Our Future.  Bishop Lawrence Brandt, of course, joined with us.

     We began with a time of prayer that centered upon the Renewal of Priestly Promises that are made at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday.  On that day, with the priests and people of the Church present, the bishop asks a series of question that remind us of the promises we made at ordination.  The questions ask if we resolve to be more united with Christ and more closely conformed to him?  Will we deny ourselves and confirm the promises made regarding our sacred duties toward the Church which we willingly pledged on the day of ordination, prompted by our love of Christ?  Are we resolved to be faithful stewards of the Eucharistic mysteries and other liturgical rites?  Will we faithfully teach, following Christ the Head and Shepherd, not for gain but for the zeal for souls?    Then the bishop asks the people to pray for the priests.  On Holy Thursday, in particular, it is most impressive.

     We then reflected by asking ourselves, in small groups, the following: What do these promises mean to me?  How has their meaning changed since ordination?  And how do we live these promises in our everyday ministry?   A good discussion followed.

     After dinner and Evening Prayer, we gathered in larger Deanery groups to discuss a number of questions presented for our thoughts regarding concerns and direction for the future of the diocese.

     Tuesday was set aside for a presentation in two sessions by Monsignor Stephen Rossetti who has studied priests and who entitled his presentation "Why Priests Are Happy", looking at a number of wellness studies and their results.  He said much, but here are two statements that I thought are worth sharing.

     The secular mind of today holds the following:

"To the secular mind, religion stifles humanity
and personal freedom. 
Thus, Catholicism cannot promote
true personal happiness.
And the unhappiest of them all
must be the Catholic priest ...."
but the Church,
in a series of studies of priests and
in the call to a New Evangelization, 
responds with
"The great 'secret' of our day is the happiness of our priests
and all those who know God.
A core message of the New Evangelization
to the secular mind of today
must be the joy and peace
only God can give.
Human fulfillment is found only in Jesus."
     Monsignor Rossetti's presentation and the conversation it led to was worthwhile and good.
     The day continued with a Mass at the local Church of SS. Simon and Jude,
a picture of all of us (wait for the next post) and a festive dinner.  Wednesday saw a presentation of the newly promulgated "Code of Ministerial Conduct of the Diocese of Greensburg" before lunch and the return home.  A tiring, fulfilling and filling (lots of good food), and a great opportunity to be with the brothers I have shared priesthood with over these years.

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