Priests’ convocation exceeded all expectations

Archbisihop Gregory M Aymond    How do you put into words what happened at the priests’ convocation last week?
    It’s difficult to express that in words. It was a very powerful experience, and I left feeling overwhelmed. I continue to remain deeply grateful for the incredible spirit of support and cooperation that my brother priests have extended to me personally in my role as archbishop. Those three days of gathering together helped me come to an even deeper appreciation of our priests individually and of our shared ministry. We are very blessed in our archdiocese to have priests who are men of God, generous, good leaders and servants of our people. During the convocation we realized that in many ways we share the same vision and value for Christ and his church. With God’s help, we also were able to identify some areas where we can grow. This was possible because of the extraordinary spirit of openness and trust that the priests exhibited in our three days together.
    Was the convocation everything you had hoped for?
    It went far beyond my expectations. First of all, we had nearly 200 priests who attended – about 150 diocesan priests and 50 religious order priests. That large number, in and of itself, speaks volumes. First, it showed that there really is a felt need among them for fraternity and cultivating unity. Second, it showed that they have the desire to get to know one another better and work together better. The presence of the religious in our archdiocese is very important to fulfilling the ministry of Christ. We are very dependent on the religious priests and the charisms they bring to our archdiocese. There is a very positive relationship between diocesan priests and religious priests. I am more convinced than ever that the morale among our priests is very positive, and we do have a deep respect and appreciation for one another.
    The survey results showed that the priests feel there is a very close bond between you and them. How edifying is that to you, and how do you hope to build on that, knowing there may be tough decisions that you have to make in the future?
    I’m very appreciative of the support they have continued to give me. Down the line I’m sure there will be times when individuals may disagree with a decision or a stance that I take, but as long as we can continue to speak honestly and admit our differences, I believe that continued respect and collaboration is possible. We’re not necessarily called always to agree with one another, but it is important that we continue to have an openness to speak and to disagree respectfully.
    What are the next steps in this process? Will you compile all the feedback and then move ahead with some specific plans?
    There are a few immediate things I want to work on. I need a little time to go through my notes, but more importantly, it seems to me that the priests were asking for this to be an annual event. That’s the feedback I’ve gotten so far. Also, there are some specific issues that need further discussion among us as brother priests, and I want to list those issues and find a way in which we can continue to have dialogue. I also think the convocation confirmed for me that the priests want and are ready for an archdiocesan synod within the next couple of years. We have some groundwork to take care of, but I’m committed to holding a synod. I just want to reiterate how thankful I am to our priests for setting aside this sacred time to be together to cultivate our unity. I promise that I will continue to pray daily that I will be able to live up to the trust they have placed in me and that I will more and more acquire the mind and heart of Christ to be the shepherd that he has called me to be.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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