How Every Lay Person Can Encourage the Priesthood

By Christine Warner
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“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – St. John Vianney

The priesthood is a beautiful calling to a life of service and sanctity. As parishioners and lay people, we have a significant role in lifting up those called to the priesthood — pastors, diocesan priests, religious order priests, and seminarians. Now more than ever, it is a countercultural vocation that requires the support of the greater Catholic community. These are some simple ways that every Catholic can uplift priests.

Pray for Priests

Always keep priests in your prayers. You may already do this, but praying for the priests in your life as well as the integrity of the priesthood is essential. Prayer is the most powerful way to support priests through divine intercession. Seek the intercession of the patron saint of parish priests St. John Vianney to bring strength, wisdom, and hope to priests. Through consistent prayer, priests will be empowered to persevere in their vocation.

Like any of us, priests can experience spiritual attack as they strive to be a Christlike presence in the world. Praying for their fortitude can help protect them from evil and distracting influences. St. John Vianney once said, “If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place.” This captures the divine nature and importance of the priesthood.

Be Welcoming and Positive

As much as it is a priest’s role to nurture his parish community, every person has a role in making it a welcoming, supportive, and faithful place for parishioners, visitors, and priests. Take the time to get to know your parish priest. Make an effort to greet him after Mass and connect at parish events or gatherings. Consider inviting him into your home for dinner and fellowship with your family, friends, or other parishioners. 

The life of a priest is so service-oriented, that sometimes just offering affirmation and thanks to a priest can go a long way — either for his specific actions or his yes to the call to the priesthood. Acknowledgment of his efforts and their impact on your life and faith will affirm his work and vocation. With other parishioners, stay positive and avoid counterproductive conversations. This will contribute to a positive parish culture.

Get Involved In Your Parish

Part of any parishioner’s role is to contribute to the mission and maintenance of the parish. This can mean a variety of things such as becoming a Eucharistic minister, volunteering at events, preparing others for the sacraments, cleaning church linens, and participating in Bible studies. Pastors and priests rely on the good will and time of parishioners to help with the upkeep of the infrastructure and the life of the community.  

Ask How You Can Help

If you aren’t sure how you can best help a priest, just ask. There may be unknown ways you can lend a hand or assist him in his ministry. Above all, continue to pray for current and future priests. And please keep the priests attending our 2019 Denver Priest Conference in your prayers as they gather from October 28 through October 30 to celebrate the sanctity of their vocation and the liturgy. Your prayers are fortifying and sanctifying.

St. Pope John Paul II said, “The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur and dignity of the priest!” Holy as they are, priests are not without need of the support and love of those around them. So let us do our part in upholding the dignity and sanctity of the priesthood.

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