The Deacon's Bench

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.

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