To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Curé of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their Bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to his Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: “In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Curé of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace! – “Proclaiming a Year for Priests,” Pope Benedict XVI
These are a few of my favorite priests: Fr. Jacques, who taught me geometry in high school and once sent me to “punish hall” for wearing argyle socks; Fr. Mike Alchediak, who heard my confession the day before my wedding and preached a sermon on the Prodigal Son the next day; Fr. Tonner, his concelebrant, who christened my wife as an infant and 27 years later gave our eldest daughter her First Communion; Frs. Perrin and LeBlanc, co-pastors at Sacre Coeur Church in Brockton, Mass., our first parish as a married couple; Fr. Quilligan, who brought my father-in-law back into the Church on his deathbed; and Frs. Benedict and Ralph at St. Anselm in Creve Coeur MO, our current parish, who between them have given First Communion to five of our six kids.