Tweets for Priests

Check out Fr. Roderick von Hoegen’s Worldwide Twitter campaign for Priests. What’s twitter you ask?  “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” It is the fastest growing social network in the world right now (right now anyway).  So this use is kind of like a chain letter to get every single person in the world praying for priests every day.  I don’t know about you but I always need reminders to pray for specific intentions.  So if someone in the twitter audience says “I’m praying for priestly vocations right now”, it serves as a reminder to pray and encourage each other to pray for it. It’s one of those internet things that is hard to grasp the utility of until you start using it.  Either way, it’s a neat way to promote vocations and out catholic identity.

During the Kickoff for the twitter event, Fr. Roderick got to interview his Bishop and talked about the need for ‘crowd-sourcing’ this kind of prayer-reminder…(extended quote)

“I asked him how many priests do they need in the Diocese of Utrecht.  There are over one million Catholics in this Diocese and they have gone from having over 350 parishes.  Now within the span of two years time they are bringing those parishes to 48 mega-parishes consisting of 7-12 churches for each parish.  According to projections, 5 years from now there will be only 50 priests left in the whole diocese who still have the age and energy to work on the parish level.  50 priests for over 300 churches.  I could not guarantee a mass in every church every week, it’s impossible.  So one week I will go to 3 churches and the next to 2 or 3 other churches.  In between they have these services where they get together and just listen to the word of God, or you’ve got these parishioners who have got to travel from one church to another in order to have the Eucharist.  And of course that is a very damaging situation in the long run because as soon as you’re not present in a certain part of town, after a while some people start to stay at home.  Only the very motivated people continue to travel between those churches, and you lose kind of the access to the parishioners who need that extra support and the nearby presence to sustain their faith.  For example there are people who are just getting to know the Catholic church, and they might not necessarily have that motivation yet to travel from one place to another in order to attend Mass.  We will lose the opportunity to cater to their needs and to strengthen their faith, and so this is not a very good situation.  The Bishop said his ideal would be to have at least 3 priests for every mega-parish.  And still that is not much considering that most parishes consist of 12 churches.  3 priests is not a luxury.  So we will need 100 new priests just for that.

That is a lot, especially considering the climate in the Netherlands where religion is completely marginalized, and there is a huge huge violent war going on against Christians, and against Catholics in particular.  Where we have almost completely disappeared from the streets.  I want to wear my priestly vestments in public because I want to show this country we’re not a pagan country, and there are still people who give their lives to the church, and who believe in it.  And that wanna be Catholic and that wanna be Priests.  I think we’ve made ourselves invisible for far too long, and that we’re chicken — we’re afraid.  We don’t wanna engage in the dialogue, because we’re afraid of the war.  We’re afraid of that Spiritual battle.  And as soon as we start proclaiming our message, there will be opposition.  SO as long as you are comfortable.  As long as you are in your comfort zone where no-body’s bothering you, you’re DOING SOMETHING WRONG as a Christian.  IT is only when people are starting to attack you that you are probably on the right track and that you are probably saying the truth.  Not always, but its probably a general rule that you can not proclaim the word of God without meeting fierce opposition.

But in this very difficult climate where the Catholic church has kind of retreated within the confines of their church buildings, it is very hard for young people to recognize the call to the priesthood.  And so it seems like ‘mission impossible’ for the vocations committee to help the Bishop kind of find those 100 new priests.  And that is why he launched this new Twitter campaign.  He said ” I want to tap into the solidarity of this worldwide Catholic church.”  We are one church whether you live in the United States or Australia or in Canada or in Europe or in Africa or South America or wherever.  WE are part of that same family.  If you are part of a family and your brother or sister has a problem or is ill, what do you do?  You help as much as you can.  And I think with prayer it is the same thing.  We are struggling tremendously, we’re not the only Diocese with these problems.  I think a lot of the Dioceses in Western Europe are having hug huge fears for the future.  I read just this morning in the newspaper that in half of Belgium, the dutch part – flanders.  They had only one new priest.  And we’re talking about 6-7 million Catholics.  One priestly ordination last year.  NO more candidates.  Thatis a disaster, that country is 95% catholic with one priest for 6 Dioceses.  We need to support eachother right now.  It is 5 min. to 12, if we don’t find these priests right now our sacramental life will disappear.

My bishop said yesterday we need priests because we need the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is our only source, it is what we live from, it is what we are.  If we don’t have the Eucharist then there is no life in the church.  So he put out the call by twittering and he hopes that people will re-tweet that call for prayer.  I hope that you will join me in that call for prayer.”

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One Comment on “Tweets for Priests”

  1. Walt Says:

    Hearing the bishop say

    “…as soon as you’re not present in a certain part of town, after a while some people start to stay at home. Only the very motivated people continue to travel between those churches, and you lose kind of the access to the parishioners who need that extra support and the nearby presence to sustain their faith.”

    led me to think of just how important it is to have groups like parish catholic men’s fellowship groups and Catholic charismatic prayer groups. Though they can never replace Mass and the sacraments, they can help to ‘keep the fire burning’ as the availability of priests becomes more and more infrequent.


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