This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Notes: The Heart of a Catechetical Priest
The Lord continues to send priests to serve in his Church. The latest figures from the Vatican Yearbook show a slight increase in 2009 over the 2008 figures worldwide for candidates to the priesthood, and the whole period from 2000 onwards is also one of stability, with a slight increase in numbers. Globally, also, the percentage of the world population who are Catholic continues to rise (it now stands at 17.4%). We can praise God for this, not because we are interested in numbers for their own sake, but because each number represents a person, precious to the Father. What, then, is a priest? The answer was given to us existentially by St Maximilian Kolbe. When this friar martyr of Auschwitz was asked why he wished to take the place of a Polish father and husband, Francis Gajowniczek, in the punishment bunkers where camp inmates were starved to death, Maximilian Kolbe gave only one reason: ‘I am a Catholic priest’. Pope Paul VI called this an ‘incomparable’ response. The response came, he said, ‘from a heart trained to give itself’. And is not a Catholic priest, Pope Paul asks, a ‘second Christ’, who is the redeeming Victim of mankind? ‘What a glory it is for us priests, and what a lesson…to find such a splendid exemplification of our consecration and of our mission!’ Maximilian Kolbe provides us with an outstanding manifestation of the very heart of Catholic priesthood.