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As a gift to the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston during this special Year of the Priest, the Serra Club of Boston has organized a unique Adopt-a-Priest Apostolate which is being initiated on Oct. 25, Priesthood Sunday. Serra Boston invites all members of the archdiocese to pray for our clergy in a more personal manner by participating in this new apostolate of prayer designed specifically for the priests of the archdiocese. This initiative is the prayerful result of Serra Boston members wishing to support, affirm and thank the 751 diocesan priests who faithfully and selflessly serve the 321 parishes, missions and chapels of the archdiocese. The goal of the Adopt-a-Priest Apostolate is to have each bishop and diocesan priest covered daily in prayer on an ongoing basis by the laity of the archdiocese.
In December of 2007, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy issued a letter encouraging fervent and incessant prayer for vocations to the priesthood and for the holiness of priests through the intercession of Mary, Mother of All Priests. “In today’s world a great many things are necessary for the good of the clergy and the fruitfulness of pastoral ministry,” the letter began. “With a firm determination to face such challenges without disregarding their difficulties and struggles, and with an awareness that action follows being and that the soul of every apostolate is divine intimacy, it is our intention that the departure point be a spiritual endeavor.”
The letter also asked bishops to promote “a movement of prayer” involving priests, religious and laypeople. “We [the Congregation] intend in a very particular way to entrust all priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest, bringing about in the Church a movement of prayer... with the primary intention of awakening a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priestly state and, at the same time, spiritually uniting with a certain spiritual maternity -- at the level of the Mystical Body -- all those who have already been called to the ministerial priesthood and are ontologically conformed to the one High and Eternal Priest.”
In an accompanying brochure on the subject of spiritually adopting priests, the story is related of the Mater Ecclesiae cloistered Vatican convent established by Pope John Paul II in 1994 as a center for contemplative nuns who would pray constantly for the pope and his ministry. “Through this initiative, John Paul II made a very clear statement to the whole world about the indispensable importance of silent prayer and hidden sacrifice for our modern and hectic world,” it said. Though the brochure focused specifically on “spiritual motherhood” for priests, Father Daniel Hennessey, Chaplain for the Serra Club of Boston and Director of Vocations for the archdiocese, encouraged club members to broaden the horizons and design an apostolate that would enable everyone (men, women and children) in the archdiocese to be prayerfully involved on a more personal level with diocesan priests.
Serra Boston has prepared prayer booklets (one for each of the 751 priests of the archdiocese) that are ready to be distributed randomly on a first-come, first-served basis. The assignments will be for one year, until next year’s Priesthood Sunday. Suggested spiritual practices combining self-offering, prayer and penance on behalf of the clergy include: Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Hour, Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross, fasting, offering of sufferings or anything else one would be inspired to do, as well as remembering their special days with cards or spiritual enrollments. Anyone undertaking this spiritual adoption should consider daily prayer and sacrifice on behalf of their assigned priest to be a serious commitment. Families and prayer communities may also spiritually adopt a priest as a group. Members of the apostolate will receive a booklet with the name of their adopted priest, his date of ordination, month and day of birth, and suggestions for prayer. There will be no cost associated with participation in this apostolate, but donations to offset printing and postage will be gratefully accepted by the club.
Anyone interested in spiritually adopting a priest via this new apostolate can register at Serra Boston’s website, www.serraboston.org, or call 978- 462-1057. A Mass will be celebrated for the success of this apostolate and to commission all those who volunteer to be “spiritual parents” to the priests of the archdiocese.
In addition, Serra Boston will post the ordination dates and birthdays (month and day only) of each priest of the archdiocese on its website, in the hopes that many individuals will remember and celebrate their priests throughout the year. Please join us in praying for our wonderful priests!
Loretta Gallagher is a founding member of the re-established Boston Serra and lives in Newburyport.