Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oratory of St. Philip Neri or Not, Priestly Fraternity Builds Up the Church

St. Philip Neri
Off and on for the past ten years, I've given thought to seeking permission to found an Oratory of St. Philip Neri.  Without getting into a long explanation, the Oratory is made up of secular priests who live together in community for life and follow a rule of life together.  They have pastoral duties and they live a common life of prayer together.  Their common life together is meant to help them in their pastoral work and, obviously, in their own call to holiness.

All of this returned to mind again during this past summer.  On a regular basis, my parish rectory has had a constant flow of priests and seminarians spending time here.  Some come for their days off, some are assigned here, and some call this parish their home.  One of the more enjoyable problems I've had this summer is trying to figure out if we had room for one more.  It's nice to have a place where brother priests stop by for their day off and where the Mass might have four seminarians present and one or two more men from the parish who might be applying to the seminary. 

I think the people of the parish really love to see so many young priests and seminarians living a life together.  They enjoy having them over for dinner, hearing their vocation story, and befriending them.  I think the people have a sense that there is something really healthy for their priests to be living a common life together, giving each other a hard time, and seeing them having cookouts in the rectory yard.  It's great for people to see all of these regular guys who are priests and seminarians. 

I think the visiting priests and seminarians are really touched by how much the people love them, pray for them, and support them.  The people here really love priests and seminarians.  In fact, in our adoration chapel there are cards whereby people can offer their Holy Hour for a seminarian.  I hear all the time from our seminarians from the Archdiocese of Boston, studying in Boston and in Rome how grateful they are to receive these cards all the time. 

Who knows if the Oratory of St. Philip Neri is what the Lord wants.  But, what is clear is that when there are priests and seminarians living in charity together, it strengthens the parish and strengthens the priests and seminarians.  It produces priestly vocations in the parish.  This week, a young man who entered the Catholic Church through the RCIA in this parish will take his solemn vows as a Dominican.  One man from the parish was ordained a few years ago to the Salvatorians.  Two other men from the parish are studying for the Archdiocese of Boston and I hope rather soon, another man will join them.  The parish also has a man who will be ordained a permanent deacon in September.  One of the great things about our common life together is that there is a lot of joy.  I think the people who stop by our home discover something really beautiful.

St. John Vianney
Today, August 4th, is the feast of the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney.  The Church desperately needs more priests and more holy priests.  Today we should ask that through St. John Vianney's intercession, the Lord raise up more priestly vocations.  We should also pray that those of us who are priests become ever more obedient to God's will in our lives.

Oratory or not, it continues to be a tremendous blessing in my life to live in a parish where the Lord gathers these brothers together in a great bond of fraternal charity and where that fraternal charity overflows into a great pastoral charity for the people of God.

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