Taking care of our pastors so they can continue to take care of their flock.
Our pastors and priests serve us in tremendous and varied ways. They help us love Christ through their preaching, teaching and liturgical prayer. They bring Christ to us in the sacraments. They witness their fidelity to Christ by their way of life. Often, these are not easy tasks given our fallen world. Sometimes their message is challenging and difficult to follow. Their decisions in parishes and schools, no matter how much they consult and discern, are not always popular. The reward of touching someone’s heart or successfully assisting someone during an important moment in their life can seem all too rare. As any human being still on his earthly pilgrimage knows, temptations to despair and other darkness can be abundant. It is clear that our pastors and priests need similar joys and suffer similar sorrows as the people they serve. They need to receive the same healing presence of Christ they have promised to give to others.
In recognition of and appreciation for the lives they lead and the work they do in the Church, Evenings of Recollection for priests have become a regular experience in the Diocese of La Crosse. These gatherings occur on Thursdays, as scheduled, in Wausau and La Crosse.
As priests, we need to regularly purify our intentions and do a thorough examination of conscience to see if we are faithfully fulfilling our priestly obligations. Setting aside time consecrated to Christ, who personally showed us the importance and the need of these dedicated times of prayer, solitude and recollection, is necessary for us to find healthy and holy ways to remain connected to Christ and to one another. “Having dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening, He was there alone.” (Mt 14:23) The servant is not greater than his master, and priests are certainly no exception. There is a constant need for us to hear and heed these words of Christ: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)
Through adoration, reflection, Evening Prayer and Benediction, these evenings are intended to lift up our pastors and priests in solitude before the eucharistic presence of Our Lord. The sacrament of reconciliation is offered by brother priests to let God’s mercy cleanse and strengthen us. The gatherings end with a social and simple meal, time for camaraderie and free-flowing conversation. Spending time together for a few hours gives a great boost to our pastors and priests.
We invite everyone who has witnessed or received the presence of Christ through the work of a priest to pray for them individually and collectively. Although these evenings are planned for priests, in your prayers, please remember our deacons ordained in the heart of Christ who serve beside our priests as well.
Prayer for Priests
Lord Jesus Christ, I raise to you the priests of the Diocese of La Crosse.
Be their Friend and Companion. Accompany them in their joys and sorrows.
Be their Teacher and Guide. Grant them divine wisdom and courage in Your truth.
Be their Lord and Master. Win for them freedom by their surrender to Your gracious will.
Be for them Mercy and Peace. Hear their plea and lift them out of the fallen depths.
Then, having robed them in Your love, send them refreshed and renewed to continue the work of building Your Kingdom. May they boldly and reverently bring to us Your Very Presence and Power in Word and Sacrament.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Clergy, pray for us.
St. Joseph the Workman, pray for us.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, pray for us.
Father Woodrow Pace
Vicar for Clergy
Published in the May/June 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine
We encourage everyone to recognize the good work done by their pastor. You can send a note of encouragement, a promise of prayer or share your favorite story by visiting diolc.org/notes-to-clergy/