This week in the Archdiocese of Boston, priestly vocations are the talk of the town because Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM Cap will ordain five men to the diocesan priesthood. He is, at the same time, ordaining them as priests of the universal Church. This is an occasion for great celebration!
Our priests are a vital part of the growth of our Church. Nowhere is this more apparent than in mission countries, especially in places where the Church is suppressed or persecuted.
Father Jeffries Foale, CP, is someone who knows quite a bit about life as a missionary priest in such a place.
Australian by birth, Father has been a Passionist priest for sixty-eight years. He is currently working in Vietnam, training local men to be missionary priests under the watchful eyes of the Communist Vietnamese government.
Father Jeff says, "Jesus is alive in Vietnam, and His work is spreading! Our missionary founders here discovered ways, even under communist restrictions, to work behind closed doors, forming the church of the future. As foreign priests they were not allowed to minister in church. But, this did not stop them from quietly training young Vietnamese men who are permitted to minister to their own people. Vietnamese recruits have become a strong team of Passionists. The first of them are now out on mission serving the poor and deprived in city parishes and in difficult, remote places. Their idealism and holy energy are an inspiration. They are much loved and befriend everyone. An old bishop said to us, 'Hurry up and get those young men ordained. The people are waiting for them!'"
Father continues, "Seven Vietnamese Passionists have now been ordained, with six transitional deacons soon to follow. Some are serving in the most remote locations across Vietnam, lifting up the poor with their loving service; others are at the seminary training those who will follow them to the priesthood. Thirty-five seminarians are 'in the pipeline.' Their solidarity will bring joy and life to Vietnam!"
Sadly, the pandemic has wiped out a large part of mission income for Father Jeff and most missionary priests. At the same time, more people depend on them to survive. They have learned to cope with less but suffering people cannot wait forever.
We turn to you for help. Please, go to www.propfaithboston.org and give to the missions so that priests there can continue their vital ministry.
Nothing short of the sacramental life of our mission Church may depend on it.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.
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