Vocations » Priestly Life and Ministry
The Office of Priestly Life and Ministry, aided by the Priests Continuing Formation Commission (PCFC), promotes the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of the priests of the diocese through its programs of annual convocation, retreats, workshops, and days of prayer.
“Permanent or ongoing formation, precisely because it is ‘permanent’, should always be a part of the priest’s life. In every phase and condition of his life, at every level of responsibility he has in the Church, he is undergoing formation.” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, #76)
As ordained ministers sent to serve God's people, the clergy–Bishop and priests and deacons–are both responsible and accountable for their own individual ongoing formation. The bishop, by virtue of his office and commitment to his own ongoing formation, is also the chief formator and is directly responsible for the ongoing formation of his priests and to holding them accountable to this end. He does this by offering encouragement, time, and resources. To help him in this task, he is to appoint a director as well as a commission of priests to oversee and regularly examine the process of ongoing formation in its human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual growth dimensions. At any time throughout this process the Church, especially through the bishop and other presbyters, has the right to call priests to accountability for the ways they have or have not fostered these particular dimensions of ongoing formation.
“The ordained ministry has a radical ‘communitarian form’ and can only be carried out as ‘a collective work’.” Pope John Paul II (PDV #17)
A necessary goal in this ongoing formation is presbyteral unity–that is, a presbyterate in union with the Bishop. The more this goal is realized, the more it will reflect the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from which it draws its life and has, as its purpose, the effective witness and proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ sent by the Father for the salvation of the world. Because of the seriousness of this purpose, those divisions that impede or imperil this unity must be accurately identified and honestly faced. Then, this "collective work" forged by a collective sense of study and prayer can lead to a common language and mind about what constitutes priestly mission and a common heart attached and committed to the Heart of Jesus Christ, our High Priest.
“. . . The new evangelization will become a reality only if ordained and lay members of Christ’s faithful understand their roles and ministries as complementary and their purposes joined to the one mission and ministry of Jesus Christ” USCCB, Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium (#18)
So that this "one mission and ministry of Jesus Christ" may be fruitfully carried out, bishops, priests and deacons should be involved and share in planning and formation with lay ecclesial ministers on a regular basis. To develop a collective sense of study, prayer, and mission among the laity and ordained clergy, with each having their "proper place within the Body of Christ," is an essential component of the "new evangelization."
With Episcopal oversight, the PCFC assumes that all of its programmatic work is geared toward the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral pillars of formation. This includes
The Priests’ Continuing Formation Commission has developed a three year plan for continuing formation based on the three offices of the priest: teaching, sanctifying, and governing. In 2011, the plan calls for a focus on the teaching office and the ministry of the Word; in 2012, the plan will focus on the sanctifying office and the ministry of the Sacraments; in 2013, our focus will center on the governing office and giving a shepherd’s care to the Community of Faith.
Individual deacons are responsible for their own continuing formation. Their responsibility is linked to their commitment to serve well the Church and the people of God through their ministry and through their own personal faith commitment.
The Office the the Permanent Diaconate offers three continuing formation events each year:
For more information, please contact:
Diocese of Manchester
The Catholic Church in New Hampshire
153 Ash Street, Box 310
Manchester, NH 03105-0310
Fax: (603) 669-0377
© Diocese of Manchester