Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


U.S. Priest Leaders Gather To Refocus Mission

Published April 15, 2004

Priest leaders from over 100 U.S. dioceses will gather here from April 19-22 to take stock and refocus their mission, in the wake of two years of intense national controversy fueled by a sex abuse crisis, dwindling numbers and renewed national interest in religion.

The priest leaders, most of them chairs of local diocesan priests’ councils, will convene at the National Federation of Priests’ Councils’ Annual Convention at the Sheraton Colony Square hotel.

The NFPC is a voice for America’s priests and represents through its councils a majority of Catholic clerics.

The theme for the 2004 convention is priestly mission. Keynote speakers will include Oxford priest and lecturer Father Timothy Radcliffe and priest anthropologist Father Anthony Gittins, currently a professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. A third presentation by theology professor and former Philippine missionary Rev. Stephen Bevans will call for bringing missionary energy to parish work.

Father Robert J. Silva, president of the NFPC, said he hopes the convention’s theme indicates a time of renewal.

“We need to bring the zeal and spirit of missionary work to today’s parish,” he said. “We hope these presentations and the ability to interact with their fellow council leaders will bring renewal to our work.”

The National Federation of Priests’ Councils is a membership organization representing 124 councils of diocesan and Religious clergy, totaling approximately 26,000 Roman Catholic priests. The Executive Board of the NFPC includes representatives from 29 ecclesiastical provinces of the United States, representatives for 16 religious communities and the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. The House of Delegates of the NFPC is the policy-setting body comprised of representatives of the member councils.

The 2004 NFPC’s President’s Award will be presented to Sulpician Father Gene Konkel, who for 26 years as director of the Vatican II Institute for Clergy Formation, at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif., shepherded over 1,800 priests from all over the world through this famous sabbatical program. Father Konkel was ordained in 1957 for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

For the first time, Council Achievement Awards will be presented to four presbyteral councils, including the archdioceses of Detroit, Chicago and Portland and the diocese of Rochester, N.Y. Criteria included frequency of meetings, shared governance, priest participation and perceived effectiveness.