Day gives parishioners time to thank priests
by Jane Graves KANSAS CITY, Kan. — If the Eucharist is “the source and summit of Christian life,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where would we be without priests to celebrate Mass?
That sobering realization gives us pause to think — and all the more reason to thank our priests on Oct. 28, Priesthood Sunday.
“It’s not only the appreciation to the individual priests, which obviously it is, but it’s also an appreciation of the priesthood itself — the office of
the priesthood, so to speak,” said John J. Jurcyk Jr. of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and district governor of the archdiocesan district of Serra International’s USA Council.
“What we’re trying to get across there is that without the priesthood, we wouldn’t have the Eucharist, and without the Eucharist, we really don’t have the church in one sense.”
Priesthood Sunday has been celebrated by the Serra’s USA Council since 2003. The organization was joined this year in promoting the day by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, which formerly promoted World Priest Day, established in 2000.
This is the first year Priesthood Sunday will be widely promoted across the archdiocese, said Tom Dervin, Curé of Ars in Leawood parishioner, who volunteered to spearhead the promotion. Dervin is both a member of the Kansas City Kansas Serra Club and a local coordinator for Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
Although Priesthood Sunday is sponsored by three organizations, it’s up to individual parishioners to make the day special, Dervin said.
“To me, every parishioner in the archdiocese has somewhat of an obligation to recognize our priests and to maybe think about what the importance of that sacrament of holy orders is all about,” he added. “So based on that, my hopes are that every parish, every individual, would take it upon himself to, if nothing else, at least personally thank and compliment the priests that they know or are involved with.”
Jurcyk said it was important to thank the priests, but that the vocation itself should also receive emphasis.
“I think sometimes we tend to take [our priests] for granted — you know they’re always there when you need them,” he said. “And so I think it’s good to at least have a special day to remember them. But while we’re thanking them, we hope to have some sort of dialogue where we talk to them.”
Conversations with priests about their lives and vocation, especially when attended by young people, might help inspire the youth to pursue a consecrated religious life, said Dervin.
“We ought to talk to the kids about priests and what it means to our church,” Dervin said. “If the young people walked away thinking this job of being a priest might not be all that bad, it just might be a heck of a deal.”
Father Mick Mulvany, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence, said his parish has celebrated Priesthood Sunday the past two years and that celebrating the priesthood publicly could encourage conversations about the vocation at a family’s home.
“That’s the first touch for any kid who’s thinking about a religious vocation,” said Father Mulvany. “All those conversations are good. They’re all plusses.”
Dervin said there are many ways to initiate those conversations with priests through both the schools and religious education classes but even a simple “thank you” can mean a lot to the priests.
Msgr. Charles McGlinn, pastor of Curé of Ars and the archdiocesan vicar general for priests, said it’s the everyday thanks he receives from parishioners, along with the trust the parishioners place in him, that make him feel appreciated.
“That’s everything,” he said.
He also said he appreciated and was humbled by the more public thanks he recently received at a celebration for his 40th anniversary of orination.
“It was almost overwhelming,” he said. “It was great. The people are so good; it just reaffirms your faith that people love the church, and people love their priests.”
Father Mulvany said both the formal and informal appreciation he receives from parishioners helps him in his vocation.
“There’s not a ‘Parish Appreciation Sunday,’ but it sure is the people that are in the pews that feed you to continue to do what you do,” he said. “We’re called by God, yes, but fed and nurtured by the people of God and that comes through everyday stuff and niceties—the nods of the head, the people waving at ball-games and somebody stopping you in the grocery store.
“It’s just all those common, everyday things that feed what it is that we do, so I’m grateful for the people that continue to feed me.”
For more information about Priesthood Sunday and for celebration ideas, go to the Web site at: www.priestsunday.org.