Extract from homily by Bishop Noel Treanor at St Comgall’s Church, Bangor

21 Jun 2009

21 June 2009

Extract from homily delivered by Most Reverend Dr Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, at St Comgall’s Church, Bangor

The lines we have heard in today’s Liturgy of the Word, taken from St Paul (2 Cor 5.14-17), invite the listener to re-discover that power of faith in Christ. This man Paul, whose discovery of Christ knocked him from the mastery of his horse and earlier life’s mission, reminds us that “for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Cor 5.17). Paul discovered that faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, opened new perspectives and possibilities in life. Hence the phrases in today’s second reading : “we no longer judge anyone by the standards of the flesh” (v. 16 ) and “the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here” (v.17). The permanent quest of the baptised to live this “new life” of grace is the motivation and source of the Year for Priests.

The Year for Priests, which begun on Friday last, the Feast of the Sacred Heart and the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, is a summons to interior renewal on the part of priests.  Let us consider some of the elements of Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter  (available on the Vatican website)  for that occasion :

  • Its aim is interior renewal on the part of priests for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world
  • Inspired by the priestly ministry of Jean Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars, a village of some 230 souls, Pope Benedict underlines a range of focal points for the pursuit of this renewal. Among them one notes Pope Benedict’s emphasis on:
  1. the primacy of Christian education, of instruction in the faith
  2. the complete identification of each priest with his ministry
  3. taking due initiatives in the sectors of cooperation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful
  4. fostering and renewing trust in the sacrament of Penance and to take up the “dialogue of salvation” which it entails
  5. nourishing ourselves as priests with the Word of God so that we may give forceful witness to the Gospel and be capable personally to appropriate the “new style of life” which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and take up by the Apostles
  6. recognising the “new springtime” which the Spirit is bringing about in the Church through ecclesial movements and new communities
  7. the priest as herald of hope, reconciliation and peace for the world of our time

As Catholic Christians in this country we are painfully aware of the need for renewal in the life of the Church. We pray that this Year for Priests will lead to a strengthening of the bond of cooperation between priest and laity in the service of Christ. We pray that we priests, all Christians and our society, will grow in our appreciation of the significance of the calling and way of life of the priest – a servant of God’s plan of salvation as it unfolds in time through the life of the Church, through the faith of Christians, often in ways and contexts which pain, frequently surprise and ultimately bring hope to a broken world.


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Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)