byMost Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach
Sunday, Sept. 25, is significant as it marks Priesthood Sunday, a day initiated by Serra International to reflect upon and affirm the role of priests within the United States. As we celebrate Priesthood Sunday this year, we do so in the context of the beginning of the three-year period of Eucharistic Revival within our country as called for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This certainly is a fitting time to reflect upon the unique role of the priest as the celebrant of the Eucharist and to understand it more deeply as essential to their lives as well as to our own. The Eucharist is the center of the life of the Church, and all of the many activities of the lives of our priests, including the celebration of the other sacraments, flow to and from the Eucharist. The Eucharist enables all of us to grow more intensely in our relationship to Christ and to each other. The Eucharist joins us, no matter what our particular vocation and situation in life may be.
I am deeply grateful to all of our priests for the ministry that they carry out within our diocese. I personally thank them for their unique role among us as the celebrant of the Eucharist as well as for all of the many other ministries which they so generously carry out. The Diocese of Palm Beach is blessed with a diverse and talented presbyterate who, despite the many challenges that we face today, do so in a manner that reveals to us the face of Jesus Christ. I am always pleased when I visit a parish and hear the gratitude and affirmation of the people of the parish for their priests. One of the top priorities of my ministry as a bishop is to assist priests and support them as best I can in the ministry that we carry out together. I consider myself blessed to be part of the presbyterate of the Diocese of Palm Beach as I am to be among the people of this great diocese.
Priesthood Sunday also gives us the opportunity to reflect upon how we encourage young men to consider the role of priesthood as a personal call from God. While we have excellent priests in the Diocese of Palm Beach, we do not have as many as we would like to have and, oftentimes, it is difficult to replace a pastor or priest within a particular parish. All of us must encourage young men to consider priesthood so that we may have available to us their ministry and the great gift of the Eucharist. It is appropriate for parishes to do this on an individual basis, as it is for families as well. We give thanks to our priests, we support them and we encourage young men to consider this awesome vocation.
Sept. 25 is also World Day of Migrants and Refugees, culminating the special week called for by the Vatican. It is a fitting time for us to reflect that we are here in this nation because our families came here as refugees and immigrants. We are a nation where the Statue of Liberty stands in welcome to the newcomer to our land. Unfortunately, today we face so many overwhelming difficulties in regard to the means by which to accept newcomers to our nation and to accommodate all in a fair manner.
Welcoming the migrant and refugee to a nation has become a critical political problem which has not been adequately addressed by all sides of the political spectrum. Adequate legislation to address the system has been delayed due to political correctness. As the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has recently stated, “Immigration is not just a political issue, but a fundamental human and moral issue. For immigrants are not faceless numbers — but human persons. They are our brothers and sisters. Our broken immigration system is a problem; but immigrants themselves are not ‘problems.’ Immigrants have been good for America, and America has been good for them. While reasonable people may disagree on how our nation should respond, any effective response demands that we recognize that immigration is more than a ‘border security’ issue but is essentially about our labor markets and the men and women who fill the jobs and continue to make America strong. Justice and prudence demand that we treat them with dignity and find a reasonable way for their contributions and presence to be recognized within the law.” This certainly is a task for all of us and National Migration Day gives us reason to reflect upon it.
We give thanks for our dedicated priests on this Priesthood Sunday. They give us the gift of the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ Himself, in which we are all united as one family. On this same World Day of Migrants and Refugees, we recognize the gift of the migrant to our immigrant nation, and we understand the challenges we face in welcoming them today. Through the Eucharist, we realize we are one family all made in the image and likeness of God. While we may not have an immediate answer for the need for increasing the number of priests we need nor for increasing the means by which to welcome and assist the migrant, it is the Eucharist which unites us most deeply and to which we all are welcome and at home.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
September 23, 2022