This month marks the official retirement from pastoral assignments of several long-serving and faithful priests of our diocese. Msgr. Richard Sheehan, Father Richard Friedrichs, Father Richard Desaulniers, Father Louis Natalizia and Father David Stokes will officially retire from pastoral assignments this year. All have served faithfully in diocesan and parish assignments, some for as many as four decades. The church of Providence is grateful to God for their priestly service. Only in Heaven will the fruits of their labors be known.
In this year, when the diocese will not celebrate even one priestly ordination, we are compelled to redouble our efforts to promote and cultivate priestly vocations. As Pope Francis says, “A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people.”
It is the same thing Pope Benedict told us when he visited our country six years ago: “Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church.”
While priests retiring from pastoral assignments do not retire from the priesthood and continue to provide an invaluable service to our local church, the truth is we need more priests. We need more holy priests. We are grateful to God for those who have served us so well. Might God continue to call more like them to serve our local church.