Boston clergy gather for annual cookout

WESTON -- Keeping with tradition, dozens of clergy from across the Archdiocese of Boston gathered with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley for the annual St. John Vianney Cookout, held this year Aug. 3 at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston. Started in 2005, the get-together allows clergy to enjoy a relaxed day of fraternity, as well as celebrate the Aug. 4 Feast Day of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.

The evening began with a prayer service, during which Cardinal O'Malley spoke to the gathered clergy about the importance of prayer.

It's "so true" what St. John Vianney, the Cure d'Ars (Priest of Ars), said over 150 years ago, the cardinal said; "Our glorious duty is to pray and to love."

"We have so many pressing obligations, activities, and programs, but as priests, at the end of the day, to pray and to love need to be our priority," he said. "They're the priorities that we're called to by our ordination."

"Without prayer, all of our activities can just become busyness rather than ministry. Without love, the service and the charity that we do could become philanthropy. So, to love and to pray are the glorious duty that we have as God's priests," he continued.

St. John Vianney's words often come to him when he makes an examination of conscience, the cardinal said.

I ask myself, "Have I prayed enough today, have I really prayed? Have I loved enough today, have I really loved?" he said.

While sometimes people can be "very demanding" of their priests, "what they really want of us, what the Lord wants of us, is that we be men of prayer, men of faith, and we be men who know how to love, we be loving fathers" to them, the cardinal continued.

Following the service, clergy filed outside to the seminary lawn, where they were greeted with hamburgers, sausages, salads, and cold beverages.

Father Martin McNulty, resident at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury, noted the cardinal's reflection was "very powerful."

It "really struck a chord with me about having to grow in my prayer to be a good priest," he said.

Seated around small tables, the clergy talked, laughed, and ate as they caught up with old friends and made new ones.

Father Charlie Bourke, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Winthrop, said it was a "perfect day in every way."

"It's just good to get everyone together and celebrate the feast of St. John Vianney."