Year of the Priest June 19, 2009 - June 19, 2010
This past March, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, announced a special Year for Priests to begin on June 19, 2009, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and end on June 19, 2010. The principal reason for this special year, he explains, is “precisely to encourage priests in…striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends” and to make “the importance of the priest’s role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived” (Address to Congregation for Clergy, March 16, 2009). This year also coincides with the 150th anniversary of St. Jean Marie Vianney, patron of parish priests. The Holy Father intends to extend this patronage now to all priests, making the holy Curé of Ars the universal patron of priests.
Since the Eucharist and the priesthood are so intimately related, Eucharistic Adoration for the sanctification of priests—as called for by the Holy See in December of 2007—is especially encouraged. Further, to promote an even more fervent commitment to praying for priests, the Vatican has announced special indulgences which can be gained in the Year for Priests. Besides special indulgences granted to priests themselves in this year, the lay faithful can also gain a plenary indulgence on the first and last day of the Year for Priests (June 19th), on the first Thursday of each month, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney (August 4th), or on any other day decreed by the local Bishop. To obtain the indulgence, the faithful must attend Mass in an oratory or Church and offer prayers to “Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify them and mold them to His Heart” (Zenit.org). These must be accompanied by sacramental confession within twenty-one days before or after, and prayers for the Pope.