About a year ago, Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida asked me if I would serve as the Spiritual Moderator for their annual Priest Convocation. I was more than happy to oblige for several reasons. First and foremost, Bishop Lynch has been a long-time friend, and has done more for me through my years of discernment and seminary formation, priesthood, and now as bishop than I could ever repay. I was thrilled to finally have an opportunity to do something of substance for him in return. Secondly, I love priests, and was glad to have the opportunity to address an entire presbyterate regarding the theological and biblical underpinnings of the life we share at the service of the Church and the People of God.
I arrived in Tampa on Sunday evening, and the convocation began Monday afternoon. I returned home around noon today. The theme of this year’s Convocation was Presbyteral Unity. The Diocese had engaged NOCERCC, the National Organization for the Continuing Education for Roman Catholic Clergy. along with CARA, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, to interview and survey the clergy regarding many components of their life as priests. One of the areas of recent attention in our Church has been to find ways to further strengthen priests individually for their ministry, as well as to find ways to further strengthen them in the presbyterates (a body of priests serving a local diocese).
It was a great couple of days, because I love being with priests, as well as the fact it gave me some time to spend with a great friend, Bishop Lynch. Just as importantly, it was good to have an opportunity for some focused reading of Sacred Scripture, Theology, and Church documents regarding priesthood, and to preach on this topic. I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to preach (and hopefully) and strengthen a group of priests in their identity and ministry of preisthood.
The weather was beautiful, as is the Bethany Retreat Center, which is the diocesan retreat center for St. Petersburg. If you are ever looking for a good “get away” for prayer, rest, and renewal,, you may want to give them a call. I wish to extend a special thanks to Bishop Lynch and his priests for their great hospitality. It was a renewal of my own ministry to spend time with them!