Renewing the Priesthood
July 19, 2012
By all measures, the first annual Renewing the Priesthood Conference was a great success. The conference was at full capacity, with one hundred priests from over forty dioceses and religious orders attending the inaugural event, which was held July 10-12 at the Priory of St. Louis Bertrand in Louisville. Gathered in a spirit of prayer and priestly fraternity, participants focused their attention on the topic: “Becoming a Better Confessor: The Priest as Minister of Divine Mercy, Spiritual Father, and Moral Teacher.” The Conference was jointly sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Dominican Priory of St. Louis Bertrand. Fr. Dominic Legge, OP, opened the conference with a reflection on how preaching can be employed effectively to attract the faithful to the confessional. Later on the first day, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and a well-known spiritual author, delivered the conference’s keynote address. He encouraged his listeners to deepen the exercise of their spiritual paternity by developing bonds of friendship with those who approach them for guidance and counsel. Three Dominican moral theologians delivered the conference’s principal lectures. Fr. Romanus Cessario (St. John’s Seminary, Boston) explained how it is that the priest’s celibate servanthood informs the manner and the content of the counsel he delivers in the confessional. Next, Fr. John Corbett (Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC) offered participants several insights into the difficult task of diagnosing accurately the spiritual pathologies that regularly afflict penitents. Finally, Fr. Michael Sherwin (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) provided a number of practical tips for preaching and counseling purity in a culture disordered by sexual confusion. Each of the principal lectures was followed by small group discussions, in which participants developed strategies to apply practically the content of the lectures. Due to the success of this first conference, organizers have begun to plan future events. Next year’s conference topic and location will be announced soon. Please check the Thomistic Institute’s website for updates.