The clergy have been playing a pivotal role during the pandemic by offering continued spiritual support and prayers to those in need. There are priests who’ve ignored potential risks to their own lives to ensure the hospitalized faithful receive the sacraments — leading to more than 100 deaths of priests in Italy alone. There are creative clergy who’ve come up with innovative ways to bring the sacraments and continue giving spiritual support while normal church services are suspended. And there are priests willing to be incarcerated to make sure those in prison can still receive spiritual guidance.
In an effort to offer our worthy priests a boost, Vocation Ministry — an international organization aimed at equipping dioceses and parishes to promote vocations, based in Houston, Texas — has come up with an initiative to help us support our priests during these difficult times. It runs from April 20 to May 1 — although there’s no reason why we can’t keep our efforts going!
In a nationwide first, the “Uplift Your Priest” campaign is a wonderful opportunity for parishioners to let their priests know how much they are appreciated. With simple gestures, the laity can offer support to these heroic men who not only have the task of ministering to their parishioners as best they can in the current circumstances, but must find ways to maintain their churches, and take care of themselves.
Rhonda Gruenewald, the founder of Vocation Ministry shared in their press release: “Our priests are in a vulnerable position like never before. They need to know that we are behind them. They need to be ‘uplifted!’”
There are many easy ways to do this. Simple gestures such as having a meal delivered to them, sending your priest a spiritual bouquet, praying a Rosary in their name, making masks to help protect them as they go out to minister to others, sending notes of gratitude or encouragement, getting kids to make some colorful drawings, or even writing a prayer dedicated to your priest.
“We hope by offering concrete and practical ideas that we can mobilize Catholics everywhere to uplift their priests and be a source of encouragement during this stressful time,” Gruenewald points out.
Whatever action you are able to carry out will surely let your priest know that you are thinking of them, and they are in your prayers as much as you are in theirs.
As Fr. Jon Schnobrich in Burlington, Vermont, shared with the ministry: “It’s an honor to more fully live my vocation to the priesthood during this unprecedented time,” adding, “to know that my parishioners are behind me, praying for me, and offering their support does a great deal to lift my spirits and keep me focused on the work at hand. I’m very grateful for Vocation Ministry’s efforts to launch this campaign. I know many of my brother priests will feel the same.”
If you’re looking for more inspiration or want to find out more about the ministry and the campaign, you can find resources available in both Spanish and English on their website on www.vocationmininstry.com, and on social media, such as Facebook.