World Priest Day Celebrations
Feedback received from Local Areas
Here are a few of the things we did at St. Anthony Church in Baton Rouge, LA to honor our pastor Rev. Hung Viet Nguyen (Joseph).
On Sunday at mass we presented him with a banner for World Priest Day. Also at the mass the youth of the parish made cards and presented them to him along with a balloon bouquet.
During the week some of the parishioners joined him for a luncheon at the Rectory. Every day during that week different parishioners came by to visit and bring him a small gift, such as a fruit basket, a wine and cheese basket, personal gifts, spiritual bouquet and other things.
He seemed to enjoyed the steady flow of visitors during the week.
Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor
In the Springfield, Massachusetts area we each did something for our parish priest. We thanked him publicly for all he does and it was announced by our DRE that it was World Priest Day. Our Parish Priest is not encountered.
Dan & Helene Robillard
We had a very encouraging event. We sent personal letters to each of our Priests in Worcester County MA. (Approx. 185). We enclosed a gift certificate for an upcoming weekend and a promise to pray for them during that week. We got back a good number of thank you notes and other positive feedback. We will be following up with offers to complete a pulpit talk or other supporting services related to ME. Thanks for the ideas and assistance in helping us put together our approach this year. Hope to learn more about other group efforts.
Dave & Karen Demers
The first World Priest Day went well in Syracuse. We mailed out a letter on parchment paper with matching envelopes to 350 priests, encountered and non-encountered. The response was very little; with a few parish priests mentioning to encountered couples that they had received the letter and thanked them for it.
The information packet was helpful, although in our area no couple was willing to take on the joy-job of coordinating the celebration. Hopefully, next year we will have more time to plan and put more effort into the Day like we do World Marriage Day. We pray this develops as successful as World Marriage Day.
Prays, peace, & passion!
Peg & Randy Myers
Dinner at local hotel for 2 team priests. Write up in community newsletter encouraging couples to celebrate WPD in some way with their parish priests. Tried to involve unencountered priests as well as the encountered. The WPD "Starter Kit" was very helpful. Please send more ideas when available.
John & Stacey Ayers
Archdiocese of NY
Article/WPD ad placed in Diocesan newspaper
Jim & Nancy Rizzi
Archdiocese of NY
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Click on one of the above pictures.
For WPD the Albany Team Community decided to invite all of the priests in our diocese to a Cocktail Party. We contacted a local motel that is run by one of the priests in our diocese. It is a training facility for culinary arts. We received a very good price since it was a celebration for our priests. We decided to pay for the party with a garage sale. Couples who attended paid, but of course the priests did not.
We then requested a set of mailing labels from our Family Life Office. This included all the priests who were retired, in residence here and there and the order priests who are in our diocese. There were 320 priests on the list. We sent an invitation letter, along with a post card asking for their RSVP.
We contacted Lee & Jan Kremer to request a letter of recognition from them and Fr. Gerry to be given to every priest in the diocese. They sent us the letter, which turned out to be the letter that subsequently was made available to all the local areas around the country to give to their priests.
Even though we only asked for positive RSVP's we received a response back from about 70 priests, of which 18 indicated they could attend, including our bishop. Many of the post cards returned by priests who were unable to attend had very nice comments thanking us for the invitation, and told us how much they appreciate and support our efforts in M.E.
Each priest in attendance was presented with 2 letters. One letter was from the local M.E. community, the other was the letter from the Kremers and Fr. Gerry. We put the letter from the Kremers and Fr. Gerry in a document frame. Our letter was not framed. Both letters were personalized with each of the priest's names.
We made color copies of the candy bar wrappers from the "starter kit" and gave each priest at the WPD celebration a candy bar. That was a nice extra.
The cocktail party menu included a huge amount of cheese and crackers, a fruit plate, Swedish meatballs and wings. Also provided was an open bar for the entire 3 hours.
We gave a brief thank you to all the priests who were there and affirmed them in all they do. We also gathered them together in the midst of the couples who attended and read the Hands Meditation for Holy Orders for them. We decided that we could not deliberately talk M.E., try to get pulpit talks, or make this a recruiting event. This was just a day to say thank you.
Our diocese newspaper was contacted and a photographer was invited to attend. A nice photo was in the paper the following week.
The week after the cocktail party we mailed the other 300 priests in the diocese both letters, each of them personalized with their name. We have received some very nice thank you notes from our priests.
Two weeks after the party we held a giant garage sale to pay for the celebration. We made it.
We believe that our effort provided much good will throughout the diocese, which will surely help us in the future in spreading the word about the weekend.
Ed & Rhonda Staats
Click on one of the above pictures.
We felt our First World Priest Day was a great success. We sent the candy bars in the wrappers to each priest in our diocese. Our bishop was supportive of this and gave us the current mailing list. We had numerous notes, phone calls and personal thank yous. They were all so appreciative. We sent a bulletin announcement but are not sure how many parishes published it. One priest told us he did and the person doing the announcements before Mass called the priest out to the altar so that the congregation could recognize him. He was very touched!
Our diocesan newspaper was very supportive. They put a picture of one of the priests with his candy bar on the front cover with a nice caption. They also put in a large ad at no cost to ME.
Personally, Dan and I wrote notes to all our parish priests and to our ME priest. We also had a new priest ordained that Friday night and we wrote him a note. We delivered bagels to our parish priests early on Sunday morning. They loved them. We had a team meeting about an hour away that day. While in our car traveling we called numerous priests we know to wish them a Happy World Priest Day and tell them how much we value them.
Overall we think the packet was very useful. Our media couple used it to send the candy bars, the bulletin announcements and to contact the newspaper. We think this will grow as more people become aware. Our priests in our diocese expressed how this was very affirming and something they needed. We have had a few high profile priests leave the priesthood lately and the morale has been a little down. This was a pick-up for many.
Thank you for helping to organize this event.
In Erie we will definitely make it an annual event!!
Kathy & Dan Dahlkemper, Erie, PA Area Coordinators
From a priest who was appreciated by the local community, it was beautiful!!! What a wonderful idea.
God bless you all.
Fr. Mike J
WWME of Richmond, VA
M. A. Diaz, CAPT, CHC, USN
Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek
We took Fr. Tom Lehning for the day after his last mass on Sunday morning. We experience Tom greeting his parishioners and we joined him doing that. After we all changed out of our Sunday clothes, we went to eat our Sunday noon meal. We went to Olive Garden.
The three of us went to the movies. We had not been to the movies in 2 years and probably 5 to 6 years for Fr. Tom. Tom picked a suspense thriller, the one with Harrison Ford and Michelle Phieffer. It was great and at one point, something happened in the movie and all 3 of us were shocked so much that we were so far out on the edge of our seats that we were nearly on the floor.
Then we stopped and got cool sodas and the rectory had fresh homemade cookies from a parishioner. The three of us just sat on the screened in porch on the back of the rectory that overlooks the pond and did our dialogue and then just talked as we watched the sun start to set. We had a wonderful life-giving day with Fr. Tom that he nor we will ever forget. We just took time to play and relax together. We learned a lot that day about our dear priest, Tom Lehning, and the priest retirement system in our diocese. We all 3 needed that day for our relationship. And, we now plan once a quarter, a play and relax day for the 3 of us together.
We love you,
Nick & Dianne
Here is our report to go along with the logo and card for WPD.
1. We decided that anything we did in the diocese of St. Petersburg should be done for all priests, not just encountered priests. With our population of retired priests our number of priests was 345.
2. We initiated a program to pray for and support our priests, by assigning each of them a "Caritas Couple" This couple's responsibility is first and foremost, to pray for their priest in a very specific way throughout the year. In addition to the card each priest received, their Caritas Couple sent/is sending a loveletter to their priest(s) sharing with them what their vocation of Holy Orders means to them, and how they intend to pray for them in the coming year. Then each couple was encouraged to choose some support activities in order to support and/or engage their priest throughout the year. Some started with a basket, tickets to ball games etc. and some did invite their priest to dinner etc. Most couples are trying to hook up with their priest(s) very gently, and are going to their parish first to meet their priest, but not place any expectations on them.
3. Our bishop was really impressed with WPD, and we think we have helped him to have a paradigm shift about priests and ME. That we are in ministry to couples AND priests took him by surprise, as well as the fact that we didn't want priests to go on the weekend so that they can help us, but to renew themselves in their sacrament of Holy Orders.
4. We have enclosed our letter that went out to each couple while the card was being sent to the priest. Each couple had been contacted and had consented to being a Caritas Couple before we assigned. If they wanted a particular priest we tried to accommodate them.
5. To sum up--we are all very excited about WPD and our opportunity to do something concrete to foster friendship between couples and priests. More importantly, we believe that our priests are in desperate need of our prayers and support. We have received many letters and phone calls from priests who have been so excited and appreciative of our initiative. Their gratitude is touching and humbling
We love you
Dave & Lucy Snyder
Toledo (Northwest Ohio)
Each of the Team couples did something different. We sent THANK YOU cards to our local parish priests along with the national letter. Others made the candy bar wrappers. Others invited priest over for dinner.
Fred & Claudia Koperski
Grand Rapids MI
We mailed hand-made and signed cards, along with the "We Love Our Priest" candy bars to all active and retired priests of our diocese, regardless if they were encountered - 160 total. We also sent bulletin announcements, and requested that all priests be mentioned in the "prayers of the faithful" on Sunday Sept. 17th.
We also did a quarter page ad in two local papers religious section of that weekend paper.
Our community was very excited about WPD, and we heard a response from about a dozen or so priests.
Joe and Deb Hart
Just a note to tell you what we did personally as executive couple for the Dubuque Area of WWME. We sent a note of appreciation for the priests YES to God's call to the priesthood to all of the retired priests of our dioceses. It turned out to be a great blessing to us as we received some responses from those priests thanking us for our note.
At our local parish, we have a retired priest serving our parish and he happened to be ministering that weekend. We read the "Hands" meditation at one Mass. We plan to do this at the other three masses on a future weekend for our regular parish priest since he was gone that weekend.
John & Sue Fink
In this area we encouraged couples to send a note to or invite one or more priests to dinner. We had couples who brought bowls of popcorn and chocolate kisses to priests. One of our couples even showed up at the back door of the Bishop's home with treats and were greeted by the Bishop (wearing gym shorts, t-shirt and slippers!!!). The executive team drafted a letter to priests in the area to thank them for their ministry.
The attached document was sent to local priests by encountered couples in their parish. It was also sent to the Bishop Wilton Gregory of the Belleville Diocese. The prayer came from the starter kit. (We pulled information off the web page)
Tony & Sue Morris
Dear Monsignor Flach,
In appreciation for your Priesthood and your leadership in our diocese, we the Ecclesial Team of Belleville Marriage Encounter, as well as all Encountered Couples & Priests in the Belleville Diocese join Pope John Paul II in this prayer for you and all of our priests.
"Pope John Paul II’s Prayer For Priests"
THANK YOU, O GOD, FOR THE GIFT OF THE PRIESTHOOD
"Te Deum Laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur…."
We praise you and we thank you, O God: all the earth adores you. We, your ministers, with the voices of the prophets and the chorus of the apostles, proclaim you as Father and Lord of life, of every form of life, which comes from you alone.
We recognize you, O most Holy Trinity, as the birthplace and beginning of our vocation; You, the Father, from eternity have thought of us, wanted us and loved us; You, the Son, have chosen us and called us to share in your unique and eternal priesthood; You, the Holy Spirit, have filled us with your gifts and have consecrated us with your holy anointing.
You, the Lord of time and history, have placed us on the threshold of the third Christian millennium, in order to be witnesses to the salvation, which you have accomplished for all humanity.
We, the church which proclaims your glory, implore you: Let there never be lacking holy priests to serve the Gospel; let there solemnly resound in every cathedral and in every corner of the world The hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus. Come, O Creator Spirit! Come to raise up new generations of young people, Ready to work in the Lord’s vineyard, To spread the kingdom of God to the furthermost ends of the earth.
And you, Mary, mother of Christ, who at the foot of the cross accepted us as beloved sons of the apostle John, continue to watch over our vocation. To you we entrust the years of ministry which providence will grant us yet to live. Be near us to guide us along the paths of the world, to meet the men and women whom your Son redeemed with his blood. Help us to fulfill completely the will of Jesus, born of you for the salvation of humanity. O Christ, you are our hope! "In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum."
Yours in Christ,
Tony & Sue Morris and Father Terry Donovan O.M.I.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter – Belleville Ecclesial Team
Mike & Janet Keck
We bought giant plastic bowls -- It was a big sports weekend as we remember. It was also the weekend of our Parish Picnic so what we did had a lot to do with lack of time since we were involved with working at our picnic. We popped popcorn, and filled the bowls -- about 12. We mixed in Hersheys Hugs and Kisses candies which were wrapped in fall colored foil. We made loving cards on our computer expressing our love and thanks to the priests in our lives. We first visited Fr. Terry Donovan with the Oblates since he is our ecclesial priest in our area. He lives in community so we did not want to leave the others he lives with out so we left several bowls of popcorn and candy. We of course gave our love, popcorn and candy to our parish pastor. We then visited the Cathedral living quarters to visit a recently ordained priest who grew up in our parish. Mike and I had been in charge of the receptions for both his diaconate ordination and when he was ordained a priest. Our teenage son played music at both receptions and we grew very close to his entire family. He was not there when we dropped by but we left several bowls there as well since he lives with three other priests. We then went to the Bishop's home. We knocked on the back door. We did all of this once again on Friday night of the weekend because of our picnic on Saturday. He called out "just a minute." He came to the back door in his sweat shorts, a t-shirt and slippers. We gave him a big hug and explained to him that Sunday was World Priest Day and how much we love and appreciate him and all of the priests in our diocese and that this was just a small token of our appreciation. Our l2 year old daughter was with us too. We felt kind of silly knocking on the Bishop's back door! We received a loving thank you from him for the goodies and he told us the Marriage Encounter Program would be in his prayers. The Bishop saw Father Terry Donovan on Saturday at a celebration at another parish in our diocese and mentioned to Father Terry that he had some visitors for World Priest Day since he knows Father Terry works with Marriage Encounter. Father Terry explained to us that the Bishop was very touched by our back-door visit.
Love and Hugs,
Mike & Janet Keck
To cover our area is a real challenge! (nearly 200,000 miles and some 50 parishes!). We sent each priest in Wyoming, encounter or not, a personalized copy of the letter sent out by Lee, Jan & Fr. Jerry. Our team also makes up over 100 Hershey candy bars with the ME wrappers, which we had copied at Kinko's. These were distributed during a recent Priest Institute day in Casper, Wyoming. Next year we would like to do more; we just need plenty of time to try to cover our domain!
Mike & Anna Winger
We put an announcement in our parish bulletin inviting all parishioners to show how much all of our priests mean to them by sending notes or gifts. Then each couple on our M.E. sharing board took one day and delivered gifts and letters to each of our 5 priests showing our appreciation. We started it on the 11th and ended it on the 17th.
Joe & Julie Ceja
Some Priest Day feedback from San Bernardino encounter
1. We gave all the community leaders and teams copies of the starter kit information.
2. Some communities recognized their priests in their parishes at Sunday mass by announcing Priest Day from the pulpit and expressing their gratitude for their priests.
3. In Las Vegas, the teams divided up the parish list and wrote handwritten letters expressing their appreciation to each priest. A copy of Pope John Paul II's prayer was included in the envelope.
4. All priests were included, not just encountered priests.
Priest Day was a terrific idea, and we look forward to doing something on a larger scale next year.
Dan & Teresa Quam
1. Many of our cores made up gift baskets for their parish priests. They loved the candy wrappers!! Our parish, St Anne's has 4 priests. We gave them each a gift basket full of goodies. We also ran a bulletin announcement that Sunday.
Today is World Priest Day! St. Anne's Marriage Encounter core would like to recognize and thank our St. Anne's priests for all they do for our parish and community. Please join us by showing your appreciation and thanks to Fr Doug, Fr Julio, Fr Adrian, and Fr Matthew, today, and everyday throughout the year. Our priests are God's hands, "they are his rod and his staff, they comfort us and lead us beside still waters and restore our souls." We thank our priests and all priests worldwide for their vocations. How sad and poor our lives would be without them. Thank you, our dear priests. God bless you all. With much love, thanks, and respect, St Anne's Marriage Encounter Community
2. The World Priest Day "Starter Kit" was helpful. A hardcopy was mailed to all Local Area Coordinators and was available on the Internet: wpd.wwme.org.
Our community is planning to put together a committee now for next year. With more time and a coordinated effort, we hope to show appreciation to all our priest if possible.
Gene & Maggie Tokraks
We had fun with World Priest Day. We asked our community couples to "adopt" a priest for that day and do something special for him. Some greeted their priest with a lei before mass, some sent fruit baskets, others read greetings (from Lee & Jan/Fr. Gerry) right before Mass. We have a raincheck to do dinner with our Fr. Charlie. This was done probably only for about 20-30 priests in the different islands. We also did a full page ad in the Hawaii Catholic Herald on 9/15 - we had Lee & Jan & Fr. Gerry's letter as AN OPEN LETTER to the Bishop and Priests, and we had the name of every priest in the diocese listed, as a backdrop for the letter.
The starter kit was being passed around and we never did get it back. It was good in that it started discussion, but not much by way of actual use. Maybe next year. This was a "busy" time for us, with the usual community/weekend/ meetings going on. Some felt this was just another added "to do". But for those who decided "to do", they report that they had lots of fun. We also found a couple of priests expressing actual interest in the Weekend!
Regards and God bless,
Hilton & Maria of Hawaii/Sec 12
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