St. Peter School celebrates the Year of the Priest

St. Peter School celebrates the Year of the Priest

stpeterkidsPictured in front of St. Peter Church, Merchantville, are Bernadette McGowan, sixth grade; Liam Riley, fifth grade; Antonio Candelaria, fourth grade; Teresa Faust, third grade; and Robert McKechney, seventh grade.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI declared this year as the Year of the Priests. Christians throughout the Catholic world are offering their prayers for the sanctification of their priests — for when the priests are holy, their people become holy. That is why the students at St. Peter’s School have taken heed of the Holy Father’s declaration and have planned several spiritual activities and exercises to honor the priests of the church and to pray for them.

Each day begins with students offering their prayers for priests, beginning with their own parish priests, Father Anthony Manuppella and Father Allain Caparas. They also remember men from the parish who have become priests and those in seminary formation. The students recognize priests as necessary for the church, but also in people’s lives.

Robert McKechney, a seventh grade student said that without the priests, “the confessionals would be empty,” for no one will be there to forgive any one’s sins.

Antonio Candelaria, a fourth grader, said it even more bluntly. He said, without priests, “there would be no saints.”

In his lesson on the priesthood, St. John Vianney said, “The priest is not a priest for himself… He is not for himself, he is for you…. When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.”

A sixth grader, Bernadette McGowan, remarked, “Without priests our church[es] would be an empty room with Jesus.” Like St. Vianney, the priest is in charge to “bring people back to Jesus.”

Teresa Faust from third grade spoke of her personal experience when Father Manuppella visited her in the hospital while she was ill. She has never forgotten Father Anthony’s visit and she remarked that without the priests, “we would not have our Catholic faith.”

Recently, the students wrote letters to their parish priests and the seminarians from the parish thanking them for all that they do for St. Peter’s Parish and the school. One class, also offered a spiritual bouquet for Father Manuppella and Father Caparas. Every Friday, the student body gathers for Mass and at the conclusion of Mass, the students offer their novena prayers for the priests. Many also attend the monthly Holy Hour for the priests. Every First Friday, the parish and the school community gather for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to offer their prayers for all the priests of throughout the world.

The priests play a vital role in the life of the school children at St. Peter’s School. Bernadette McGowan appreciates the reverence that both Father Manuppella and Father Caparas show when offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “I like the way they say the Mass,” she said. “They’re even humorous and funny times,” she added.

When asked if any of the boys ever thought about the priesthood and why, Liam Riley from the fifth grade replied: “I like to say the Mass and give [others] the Eucharist.”

Isn’t that what the priesthood is about? Christ in the Eucharist, and Christ being offered to all men and women as nourishment for the soul and for the salvation of all.

Debbie Moran is a parishioner of St. Peter, Merchantville.

Categories: Catholic School News

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