Heroic Priesthood

Being a priest has always required great generosity and courage. Only a generous and courageous heart is able to respond to God’s radical invitation to follow him unreservedly as a priest.

I recently read these truthful words in the Wall Street Journal, “young men still want lives of heroic virtue, and the priesthood offers that in abundance.” The author, Matthew Hennessey, accurately recommends that heroic stories highlighting the courageous lives of the martyrs and saints of the Church be shared often. “Catholic history is replete with heroic stories…the Church could do a better job of telling them.”

The twentieth century is filled with heroic men who responded to God’s call in their lives, and in doing so, lived heroic lives. On August, 14, 1941, Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, was killed with a carbonic acid injection at the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. Days before he had freely replaced a man who had been selected to die at the camp as punishment for an escape attempt by prisoners. He volunteered after the man pleaded with the guards since he had a wife and a family. Saint Maximilian Kolbe was courageous in opposing the Nazi regime and generous in surrounding his life so Franciszek Gajowniczek could live.


“Catholic history is replete with heroic stories…the Church could do a better job of telling them.” Matthew Hennessey, The Wall Street Journal


On June 2, 1979, Pope John Paul II returned to his homeland and celebrated Mass at Victory Square in Warsaw, Poland. Thousands gathered as his presence openly defied the ruling Communist regime. The closing prayer of his homily, “let your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land,” set in motion the beginning of the end of Communist rule in his homeland. Saint John Paul II was courageous in challenging the communists and generous in accepting the role as Pope.

As these two heroic saints responded to God’s call as young men, we are blessed in our Diocese of Savannah to have nineteen young heroic men actively discerning God’s will in their lives. Their generosity and courage is evident. Jesus Christ needs heroic men to rise and respond to his call, making a marked difference in the world as priests. Is He inviting you to join Him?

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