Year for Priests begins on June 19 Print
Living and Learning
Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009 -- 12:00 AM
Living and Learning column by Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert

St. John Mary Vianney once said, "All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, but the Mass is the work of God. Even martyrdom is nothing in comparison, for it is but the sacrifice of man to God, but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man."

Marking the 150th anniversary of St. John Vianney's death, Pope Benedict XVI has announced a "Year for Priests" beginning this June 19th. It is meant to be, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

Prayer for Priests

Dear Lord,

we pray that the Blessed Mother wrap her mantle around your priests and through her intercession strengthen them for their ministry.

We pray that Mary will guide your priests to follow her own words, "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5).

May your priests have the heart of St. Joseph, Mary's most chaste spouse.

May the Blessed Mother's own pierced heart inspire them to embrace all who suffer at the foot of the cross.

May your priests be holy, filled with the fire of your love, seeking nothing but your greater glory and the salvation of souls.


Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

For more resources on the Year for Priests, go to:

The gift of Holy Orders

As great as it was, some of us priests could not have imagined on the night of our ordination how, because of this sacrament of Holy Orders, we would see even greater things in the following years, albeit with a sufficient amount of life's challenges thrown in, as well.

We would see in a new way, from a front row seat, how God goes about saving his people. Our families, our home parishes, the seminary years helped us to grow to see Jesus as the one who loves us unconditionally.

But it was because of receiving the gift of Holy Orders that we have come to see even greater things than this. We have been privileged to see God work in the lives of our parishioners as they strive to love one another unconditionally, and it has deeply moved us.

Before ordination, we could see that Jesus would always forgive us. We needed to sincerely ask him. But through the gift of Holy Orders we have seen even greater things than this. I have seen God's mercy in action as a father forgave the man who murdered his son.

It was a hot sticky night at our Cathedral back in 1974, but I was coming to see by then that Jesus was always with me in my family, my bishop, my brother priests, and all those other perspiring friends and people who were there.

Just the beginning

And yet, that sacramental laying on of hands by the bishop was just the beginning. Because of the gift of ordination there have been countless parishioners and others who have reached out to me with their hands, their hearts, their homes, and their help over these years. God's saving presence in his people.

This is why it is great to celebrate priesthood. For I believe that as we priests serve the presence of God in our people with the heart of Christ and keep calling upon the intercession of the angels and saints, God will continue to remedy the way we love, the way we forgive, and the way we stand in solidarity no matter what. The Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney himself, will inspire us.

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the Vicar General for the Diocese of Madison.