Do you want to support a crucial work in the reform and renewal of the Catholic priesthood?
Last summer I was invited to shadow teach a course on the Liturgy at the Institute for Priestly Formation(IPF), and to bring my family with me to live on campus in a dorm. Aside from the insane fun of campus life, we discovered something absolutely extraordinary at IPF. In fact, I am convinced that the work of this Institute will bear revolutionary fruit over the next several decades as these men who have been formed in IPF assume leadership in parishes, dioceses and other ecclesial institutions around the U.S.
Pope Benedict XVI has stated, ‘A priest must really be a man of God, he must know God intimately and know him in communion with Christ and so we [priests] must live this communion. Our being, our life and our heart must be fixed in God, in this point from which we must not stir.’ Essentially, the Pope is urging priests and seminarians to fall in love with God. In fact, the Holy Father specifically speaks of a seminarian’s experience in this way: The seminarian experiences the beauty of that call in a moment of grace which could be defined as “falling in love.”
Among many good things offered in a seminary environment, that most important point—to know God intimately—can sometimes get a bit lost in the hustle and bustle. And it is certainly true that, in the busyness of everyday life, a dedicated diocesan priest can find himself torn by the demands of that same busyness and occasionally find himself ‘off the track’ in his relationship with God. But what if he does not even know ‘the track’—know what a real, vital relationship with God looks like and feels like? How can priestly ministry, which at heart mediates the living God to his people, bear abundant fruit when his ministry is not intimately linked to its life-giving Source?
IPF was founded to assist bishops in the formation of seminarians and priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Its programs for seminarians and priests provide a time and place for them to fall more deeply in love with God, to help them know God intimately and to keep their hearts fixed in God so that everything in their priestly life flows from that point from which they ‘must not stir.’
I am grateful to say that I was invited back to teach every summer, which prompts me to echo St. Elizabeth and say, ‘Who am I?’
To learn more about the Institute, and offer your financial support, visit the website at: www.priestlyformation.org