Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Sustaining our priests with prayer

By BISHOP JOEL M. KONZEN, S.M. | Published December 30, 2023  | En Español

At the national meeting of American bishops in November, Archbishop Broglio, the president of the Conference of Bishops, gave an address to the bishops in which he said, “On behalf of all bishops I thank those who strive to instill vibrancy, commitment, and renewal into our faith communities while reaching out to the peripheries at the same time. On the front lines of these efforts are our committed priests on fire with the Gospel. They are our first collaborators, and we are so dependent on their tireless efforts.” 

Bishop Joel M. Konzen, S.M.

I was reminded when I heard his words of the truth of what he had to say. Not only are the bishops dependent on the work of our priests, but the entire church is. For us Catholics, centered on the reality of Christ in the Eucharist, priests are much of the binding that holds our family of faith together. In a very direct and personal way, they oversee the life of faith that we Catholics participate in.  

When the priest is ill or absent, the community of faith feels the effect. We depend upon the energy and the encouragement that comes from our faithful priests. 

We are more aware than ever at this season of Christmas that we have a tremendous gift in our faith and in the practice of that faith as Catholics. That God would exercise his constant care by sending us his own Son to challenge and to heal us, along with his Holy Spirit to sanctify us for our journey heavenward, is remarkable, and we give him our thanks this Christmas. As we look forward into the coming year, in which we in the United States will have a national Eucharistic Congress for the first time in decades, we give God thanks also for the priests who make it possible for us to worship Christ risen from the dead and to build bonds of fellowship in our parishes and schools. 

When we bishops go to parishes, we often hear people voice admiration for their priests, and we know that many are adding prayers for their priests to those expressed in the Eucharistic Prayer and Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. It’s only right that the priests who pray daily for the needs of so many are themselves remembered in prayer by all of us who benefit from their selfless service. 

On those occasions when the priests of the Archdiocese are able to be together—on retreat, at the annual Chrism Mass, at the biennial convocation of priests, at ordinations and funerals—it’s evident that priests derive some of their strength and satisfaction from the bond that exists with other priests. There is the common appreciation for what their leadership requires and the admission of the exertion that their work often requires. As Archbishop Broglio said, it’s the fire of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ that propels priests to keep going, to use every opportunity available to them to bring the truth of God’s love and mercy to all who long to know his forgiveness and peace. 

If you haven’t expressed your appreciation recently to the priests in your life, this might be a good time to do so. In addition to their busy dispatch of duty in our parishes, prisons, hospitals, schools, missions and offices, they serve as an inspiration to seminarians, who most often saw in a priest something that they believed God was calling them to imitate. As they balance their own worries over their people, their health, their relatives, their effectiveness, priests not only show up each day, but they pray each day for God’s will to be witnessed and realized in the communities they serve. 

Archbishop Broglio said of priests, “They motivate so much of the charitable outreach of the church.” It is true. We give thanks to God for the work of his priests and for calling them to service in the church. May we help to sustain them with our prayers and our cooperation.