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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Wonderful Exhortation to Priests

   As most of my blog readers know I just returned from a wonderful mission trip to Honduras under the auspices of Christ the King Parish in Little Rock, Arkansas. In a few days I will offer a reflection on that trip.  For now I want to offer a special gem that came my way while in Little Rock. I arrived there a few days early and happened to pick up the June 9, 2012 edition of the Arkansas Catholic, the weekly newspaper of the Little Rock diocese.  I was happily surprised to see a quote from the homily delivered by Bishop Anthony Taylor at the May 26 ordination of 3 new priests there.  I think that every priest and bishop should pin these words to his bathroom mirror and reflect upon them every day.
   The article in which the bishop was quoted was written by Malea Hargett, Editor  of the paper.

She writes:

 In his homily, Bishop Taylor said the priests might be leading a flock, but Catholic laypeople are by no means "stupid" like sheep.
"God has blessed them with many gifts of intellect, many talents that you and I do not have," he said. "And he has also blessed them with sincere commitment to Jesus and his Church. They are our co-workers in the vineyard. So as you begin your priestly ministry, I urge you to revere the people you serve ... indeed, you will serve them best by empowering people to contribute their gifts, placing yourself at their service -- not the other way around. The Church in Arkansas needs priests who lead by example, who revere the spiritual and ministerial gifts of those Jesus sends us to serve.
"Our Church should be characterized by collegiality, not coercion; by intelligent discourse, not edicts imposed from on high; of ideas and values, not just legal rules. Ninety-nine percent of the time your ministry will require you to lead but not compel; to inspire and not shame; to encourage the sheep instead of rebuking them -- and hopefully that rare 1 percent of the time when rebuking is needed might never arise, if they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them and revere them."

I couldn't say it any better.

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