Keeping the Spiritual Gas Tank Full
Diocese of Charlotte
Simple formula for a revitalizing monthly get-together for priests
"We come away with a much better understanding of a particular topic and some ideas of how to deal with it practically. At the same time, we've had a chance to spend some time praying and enjoying our priest friends, which is a tremendous support." Fr Timothy Reid, Charlotte, NC, USA
The need it meets
Priests need continuing formation after ordination, but the hardest part can be finding time. This monthly get-together formula is simple enough to minimize the time commitment, but substantial enough to make the time spent worthwhile.
Where it came from
Fr. Timothy Reid and his priest friends came up with this formula four years ago.
How it works
Once a month a group of Fr. Reid's priest friends get together for prayer, study, discussion, and fellowship:
- They begin with an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.
- Then they discuss an article they have all read beforehand. The priests take turns choosing an article on a current topic in the Church: "In the years that we've been meeting we've covered a variety of topics - from legal matters, to papal encyclicals, issues with catechesis, understanding Islam - you name it. Our discussions tend to last about 90 minutes to two hours, and we really go in-depth...not only discussing the article itself, but also the practical implications for life in the parish. Each of us shares our knowledge and experience about the issue, and sometimes we debate."
- After the discussion, they move on to Vespers and dinner.
- Personal encouragement and revitalization: "Spending time with my brother priests is refreshing," Fr Reid commented, "giving each of us a more positive attitude as we return to our parishes."
- Growth in knowledge and perspective on issues affecting parish life
- Enhancement of preaching, teaching, and efforts to manage the parish.
- A group of priests with similar interests and perspectives who are willing to commit to meeting on a regular basis. In Fr. Reid's group are a variety of ages and perspectives, and he says, "While we certainly don't always agree on every issue, we tend to be very faithful to the Church's teachings and very devoted to the Church's liturgy." This is a support group and an element of trust and kinship is very helpful.
- One member chooses an article to study each month, and each priest has to commit to doing the requisite reading.
- Most Important: Prayer in Eucharistic adoration together first. This prepares them to be formed and disposes them to be docile to the Holy Spirit working among them.
- A place to relax and talk and then eat dinner.
How to implement it
Here is a sample plan for hosting a first event:
- Plan to do this on the evening of your day off and hopefully your friends also have a similar schedule.
- Create a guest list of eight to ten priests (even if only a few can attend, it is worth it).
- Contact them by email and telephone; get commitments to attend and to read/prepare.
- Choose a resource to discuss, or delegate that to another enthusiastic respondent from your guest list.
- Set a date and time, give your guests their reading assignments, and a schedule for the evening, so everyone is on the same page.
- Make the first one easy and have the dinner as a potluck. You provide the place and the dishes, etc. Everyone else brings the food and drinks!
Fr. Timothy Reid is pastor of