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Help priests to be holy, laypeople urged

It’s true that priests are responsible for all souls in their parish but they need help too, especially in fulfilling their call to be holy, a renowned international retreat speaker said.

Sr. Briege McKenna, who is known around the world for her ministry of healing, said that priesthood can be a daunting vocation so priests need support from both their congregation and each other.

“We all need to be aware that we have to help priests live that holiness,” McKenna said. “And to love them, to pray for them, and to encourage them.”

The Irish nun acknowledged the shame and frustration felt by priests who are dejected by challenges confronting them and their ministry.

According to her, their discouragement often arises from recognizing their own sinfulness and unworthiness, threatening to overwhelm them.

“You know there’s a tendency nowadays to criticize priests… to say they are boring, that they are the worst,” she said.

The nun pointed out that vocations are God’s gifts to the Church when the faithful do their part.

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“Priests don’t grow on trees. So it’s your (laity) responsibility as well,” McKeena said. “The greatest greatest gift you can give to a priest is to really appreciate and to pray for them.”

McKeena was the speaker at the recent National Retreat for Priests in Cebu City. She was accompanied by Fr. Escriva de Romani, a missionary priest from the Archdiocese of Madrid.

More than 2,600 priests, along with approximately 30 bishops from across the country, participated in the retreat organized by the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Clergy and the Archdiocese of Cebu.

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu emphasized that the laity are just as essential to the mission of the church as the clergy.”

“And as we journey together, you can help us in many ways,” Palma said. “So I think we should help each other become holy”.

“I hope and pray that your friendship with us also leads you to holiness,” he also said.

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