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The "Year of the Priest" comes to an end

This Friday, the Catholic Church, brings the "Year of the Priest" to a close with the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. I think it is fair to say that the year did not unfold exactly as Pope Benedict intended as it seemed that every week brought another aspect of the sex abuse scandal to the fore, culminating in a Holy Week/Easter season that saw the tentacles of this evil reach right to the Chair of Peter. It reached its zenith with the likes of Christopher Hitchens calling for the arrest of the Pope during his upcoming visit to Great Britain.

Yet, as we reach the end of this priestly year, I cannot help but feel uplifted and strengthened by the response of the faithful to this papal call of support for the Church's priests. In our Diocese here in the Ottawa Valley, celebrations have been held in various parishes to fete the men who have undertaken the difficult task of representing Christ the eternal high priest to all the baptized. There was also a Diocesan celebration, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women's League, which gathered all of the priests together to be wined, dined and honored together as a presbyterate. This has been particular poignant for us as our little Pembroke Diocese has twice found itself in the media cross hairs with the revelations of misdeeds and crimes by two priests as well as the discovery of an attempted cover-up by a previous Bishop. Amazingly, somehow the laity have been able to separate their angst and disgust at the failings of these few priests and bishop from their gratitude with the service they have received from their parish priests. For this I am truly humbled and grateful.

For this grace alone, it has certainly been a blessed year to serve as a priest in the Pembroke Diocese as I am sure that it has been for priests throughout the world.

Many thanks to the people who have lifted up all priests in these difficult times. Your gifts to your clergy have in fact made this a year to remember, for all the right reasons.

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