Priests' convocation rejuvenates clergy
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and some 167 priests did much more than just take a three-day break from the stresses that come with their busy lives when they gathered for the annual Convocation of Priests held Sept. 13-15 in the Golden Inn, Avalon.
This year’s convocation actually gave them some concrete pointers on how to deal with their stresses in a healthy way. In the course of four conferences, keynote speaker, Jesuit Father Gerald J. McGlone, Ph.D., executive director of St. John Vianney Center, Downingtown, Pa., cited a number of factors including: how to identify signs stress, the precipitators or causes of stress; the physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of stress, then offered suggestions on how to handle stressful situations.
Click HERE for a gallery of photos from the convocation.
One important way to deal with stress, Father McGlone emphasized to Bishop O’Connell and the priests, is by developing healthy relationships with others, whether it is with other priests or with other people in general.
Other possible stress busters are for priests to maintain their physical well-being through proper nutrition, exercise and rest, and to be attentive to their spiritual and social needs as well.
In addition to his position as executive director of the St. John Vianney Center, which is the oldest psychiatric treatment center for priests and religious in the United States, Father McGlone is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He has also served as a clinical and research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
On the last day of the convocation, Bishop O’Connell and the priests heard a presentation by Barry Sargent, who currently serves on the national board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Commission on Certification and Accreditation and has extensive experience in workshops and retreat facilitation, days of recollection and parish staff development and leadership.
Sargent spoke on the positive influence he received from Catholic clergy in helping him to live out his own Catholic faith, exhorting the bishop and the priests to be mindful of the positive influence they have in the lives of others they serve.
Reflecting on the convocation, Father Thomas Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy, said that Bishop O’Connell and the priests appreciated the “holistic” approach that Father McGlone took in his discussions and how he placed emphasis on the importance of priests having a “good balance” in their lives.
Father Mullelly spoke of how the annual Convocation of Priests provides the bishop and the priests of the diocese to “have a wonderful opportunity to praise God” through their various worship experiences – which includes the Liturgy of the Hours and the celebration of Mass, as well as through their opportunities to socialize and share camaraderie.
“Whenever priests get together, it has wonderful benefits,” said Father Mullelly, “because it redounds to the building up of our sense of the presbyterate of the Diocese of Trenton and of our brotherhood.”
The convocation “is a wonderful event in which the bishop and his priests can pray together, laugh together and enjoy the fraternity we share.”
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