The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“God is the only treasure people desire in a priest”

That’s the gist of a typically powerful and provocative address by New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan:

The archbishop of New York is urging priests to remember that their vocation is an identity, not simply a career, and thus it must be lived with holiness.

T_1.jpgArchbishop Timothy Dolan affirmed this in a lecture he gave Thursday at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, marking the Year for Priests, which will end June 11.


The text of his address, which focused on the theme “God is the only treasure people desire to find in a priest,” was publicized by the Irish bishops’ conference.

The conference is also offering on its Web site a special feature video with an additional interview with Archbishop Dolan, excerpts of the address, and other images from the event.

The archbishop urged priests to be aware of their identity. He recalled the example of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who offered his life to save a fellow prisoner chosen at random for execution.

The prelate noted: “When the Nazi commandant of Auschwitz snickered, ‘Who is the Polish swine?’ the ‘Polish swine’ did not reply, ‘I am Maximilian Kolbe,’ nor ‘I am prisoner number 1408,’ nor ‘I am a friend and would like to take his place in execution.’ No. He simply replied, ‘I am a Catholic priest.'”


“Priesthood is not, first and foremost, something we do, but someone we are,” the archbishop emphasized.

He added, “The priesthood is a call, not a career; a redefinition of self, not just a ministry; a way of life, not a job; a state of being, not a function; a permanent, lifelong commitment, not a temporary style of service; an identity, not a role.”

Archbishop Dolan pointed out: “If the very value of my priestly vocation depends on what I do, where I’m assigned, how the people affirm me, how my bishop treats me, what the newspapers report about us, what horrible sins brother priests may have committed, what negligence was shown by their bishops, how much I get out of it, or how high or low morale may be at a given time — if the very value of our priesthood depends upon those external forces, however dominant they may be; if, in a word, my value depends on what I do, sooner or later we’ll get frustrated, cynical, exhausted, crabby, bored, and tempted.”


“Our value must come from who we are,” he reiterated.

You can read more at the link.

And you can read the entire address here.

Comments read comments(5)
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Steve P

posted June 2, 2010 at 9:12 am

Wow– well said. And without taking anything away from our fantastic priests, shouldn’t we be able to say those exact things about ourselves as baptized Christians?

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posted June 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Exactly Steve, St M K could’ve said “I am a baptized Christian, maximilan kolbe” and been able to do the same; doesn’t baptism confer an ontological change? a consecration? with so much said about the priest, the lay man and woman is practically forgotten in this regard of outstanding holiness, whereas, really, the real saints are among the married

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posted June 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm

The Archbishop was not forgetting the laity but he was addressing priests was he not?

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posted June 3, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Yes, he was addressing priests, reminding them of their dignity, and then it “trickles down” so that the laity gets the point; that is the way conservatism works

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posted March 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Hello. And Bye.

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