The Year for Priests Opens: A Time for Rediscovering the Beauty and Importance of the Priesthood

The Year for Priests Opens: A Time for Rediscovering the Beauty and Importance of the Priesthood

Commentators Available on Formation, Perspective, Life and Role of Priests

ATLANTA, June 19 /Christian Newswire/ — Pope Benedict XVI will open the „Year for Priests“ today, June 19 in St. Peter’s Basilica. „Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests“ is the theme for a year that ends on June 19, 2010 in St. Peter’s Square at a World Meeting of Priests. The year also marks the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, known as the „Curé of Ars.“

According to the Vatican announcement, Pope Benedict stressed that priests need to be „present, identifiable and recognizable — for their judgment of faith, personal virtues and attire — in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church’s mission.“ The Vatican’s intention for the „Year for Priests“ is to rebuild strong priestly spiritual identities, noting that „priests are important not only for what they do, but also for who they are.“

In a letter to priests, the Holy See stressed that the Church „is proud of her priests, loves them, honors them, admires them and recognizes with gratitude their pastoral work and witness.“

The prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, is encouraging local dioceses and parishes to plan events that will „celebrate and show appreciation for priests.“

The Maximus Group, the leading Catholic communications company in the United States, has assembled a variety of spokespersons to speak on multiple aspects of the Catholic priesthood. Here is a sampling of available commentators:

· Fr. Richard Gabuzda — Executive Director of The Institute for Priestly Formation; Fr. Gabuzda can speak on the spirituality of the priest in today’s world;

· Dr. Christine Mugridge — Theologian, social communications expert and editor of Called by Name: The Inspiring Stories of 12 Men Who Became Catholic Priests;

· Deacon James Keating — Director of Theological Formation for The Institute for Priestly Formation, and author of Resting on the Heart of Christ, a new book that guides seminary theologians in their formation of young priests;

· Jeremy Stanbary — International performer and Founder of Epiphany Studio Productions; writer, producer and star of Lolek, a popular one-man drama about the young adulthood of Pope John Paul II, focusing on his vocation and call to the priesthood;

· Fr. Michael Najim — Vocations Director for the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island and author of Radical Surrender: Letters to Seminarians (Released July 2009);

· Fr. Robert Barron — Francis Cardinal George Chair of Faith and Culture at the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, and author and founder of Word on Fire Ministries; Fr. Barron can speak on the vow of celibacy and address the controversy it evokes in the culture;

· Dr. Pia de Solenni — Moral theologian, cultural commentator and expert on women’s issues can address the Church’s position on women in the priesthood;

· Fr. John Bartunek, LC — Author of Inside the Passion and The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer, Fr. John can share his personal call to the priesthood, a call that drew him away from a career as a model and actor.

· Fr. David Toups — Associate Director of the Secretariat of Clergy at the USCCB, and author of Reclaiming Our Priestly Character (Released January 2008); Fr. Toups can speak to contemporary priestly life in light of a thoughtful review of the crisis surrounding priestly identity in the culture

· Fr. Thomas Berg — Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, Fr. Berg can speak on the modern role of priest in the public square;

· Dr. Art Bennett — Director of the Alpha Omega Clinics and author of The Temperament God Gave You; is a psychologist who helps priests in their role as counselor to the everyday Catholic facing crisis‘ relating to morality and sexuality.

Full biographies of these commentators and their topics are available.

For interview requests or additional information, please contact Schicker at 404-610-8871 or Walker at 678-990-9032, both with the Maximus Group.

The Maximus Group, LLC — The Maximus Group, a Catholic communications agency, first offered this unprecedented service to the media in 2005 at the time of the passing of Pope John Paul II, during the interregnum and papal conclave period that concluded with the election and installation of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Media outlets regularly return to Maximus when faced with a need for commentary from a Catholic perspective.

Maximus‘ mission includes providing cultural commentary from reliable, informed, authentic sources who can provide intelligent and entertaining dialogue on topics relating to faith, value-based issues and the Catholic Church.