Archbishop Dolan challenges Irish priests to focus on prayer, holiness
June 01, 2010
Four days before the Vatican announced that Archbishop Timothy Dolan was appointed the head of the apostolic visitation to Irish seminaries, the New York archbishop was in Ireland challenging priests to holiness.
Speaking at Ireland’s national seminary on May 27 at the invitation of Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Dolan paid tribute to the influence of Irish Catholicism on the Church in the United States before speaking on his theme: “God is the only treasure people desire to find in a priest.”
“My great-great-grandparents came from Cavan and Leitrim in the mid-nineteenth century, desperately joining hundreds of thousands of other emaciated Irish fleeing the anguish of the famine,” Archbishop Dolan said. “These starving, one-step-away-from cadavers arrived in America with nothing, nothing of earthly value, but with a heavenly treasure to-be-sure: a glimmer of faith, a sparkle of hope, the whisper of a prayer. And they built the Catholic Church in the United States.”
After recalling the challenges he had faced as archbishop of Milwaukee-- “my predecessor had sadly resigned in ignominy after revelations that he had paid an adult male partner $450,000 of archdiocesan funds”-- Archbishop Dolan said that “the daily celebration of the Eucharist, with proper preparation, joyfully, sincerely, reverently offered, the anchor of a day then laced with prayer, from our morning offering to our Salve Regina, especially that prayer that is such a constant of our life that we priests call it our office, is the key to intimacy with Jesus, which is holiness.”
“We’re not priests for what we can get, but for what we can give, and anyone who’s in it for power, authority, privilege, or entitlement should not be,” he continued. “That’s clericalism, and it is a vice, a sin.”
Turning to the theme of priestly identity, Archbishop Dolan asked, “Did He summon us to plan with Him? To organize with Him? To write strategic plans with Him? To draw up mission statements with Him? To work out with Him? To write job descriptions with Him? Nope! He did invite us to remain with Him, to abide with Him, to rest with Him, to come away with Him, to stay with Him, to keep vigil with Him.”
Archbishop Dolan concluded:
To those who may think my reflections overly pious and simplistic, to those who think being grounded in holiness not enough in an emergency so desperate, I claim it is no more simplistic than the exhortation given us by the Master Himself, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of heaven and all else will be given thee.”
To those who claim the problem is that, as a matter of fact, Church teaching is too holy, too aloof, too distant, too out of touch, I say the problem is hardly Church teaching but lack of fidelity to it.
To those who wonder if holiness, humility and identity are a pollyannaish ignoring of deep psychological turmoil in the priesthood, I say with Adrian van Kaam, no, as a matter of fact, holiness means wholeness, and wholeness means integrity, and a man of integrity hardly abuses our youth or overlooks the crimes of those who do.
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- Address of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, at lecture to mark Year for Priests in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co Kildare (Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference)
- Vatican unveils plans for apostolic visitation of Irish Church to begin in fall (CWN, 5/31)
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