Considering the work of a priest, there are many important details to which he must attend in order for him to sustain his strength, persevere in his vocation, and help the souls under his care. For the priest to follow the spirit of St. Paul and spend himself daily out of charity for the faithful entrusted to him, there requires much more than the everyday duties of prayer, sacrifice, and the apostolate. An essential part to preserving the priests for the future is furthering their formation. This is done by attending meetings organized by the superiors.
I will most gladly spend and be spent myself for your souls.” — II Cor. 12:15
Following the annual schedule for the US District, some priests throughout America gathered together for conferences in Winona, MN during the week of February 4-8, 2019. The group of priests were the priors who currently lead the 21 priories (which collectively house over 100 priests). This meeting was a time of joy, formation, rest, and recuperation! Over the past few years, this meeting has taken place at the Brothers’ Novitiate, which was formerely the location of the seminary for many of the current priors in the US District. The priors each year are overjoyed to have the opportunity to return “home” to the quiet walls of Winona where they remember those years spent in formation for their future priesthood.
As we are entering a new calendar year, resolutions are traditionally being made by all. There are many ways to anticipate and consider what may come. In order to put our best foot forward, the General Superior mentioned this year, “we are going to take our temperature.” It allowed for a general examination and offered the occasion for resolutions to be made and feedback to be given throughout the conferences.
Particular to this year was the presence of the Society’s new General Superior, Reverend Father Davide Pagliarani. It was a great honor to have him present to meet with the individual priors, to offer two conferences—an update on Rome’s position with the SSPX and his vision for the Society as he takes up leadership—and to mingle with the priests who help direct the assistant priests of the US District. Both of these conferences were beneficial for the priors. They allowed time for assuring the priors of the continuation of the Society’s perennial spirit, exposition of the General Superior’s vision, and offered the occasion for first hand Q & A with the new leader from whom we receive our directives.
A key phrase that was made throughout the course of his conferences was that the support of the SSPX members is needed. This comment was music to our ears. Understanding that forefront in the mind of our General Superior is the strengthening of the priests was most encouraging!
The theme taken this year was confession. Many aspects were considered in light of the pastoral role, the dispositions that both the confessor and penitent ought to have, and how we can perfect the administration and reception of this august sacrament. We need to know where we are starting before we are able to depart for a destination. Although our eyes are ever looking towards Heaven, we need to constantly review how the ground upon which we stand is apt for such an ascent. If we are not prepared to depart, we must strengthen ourselves beforehand. This is what took place during this meeting.
The emphasis has been put on supporting the priests. This is done for the sake of the long-term strengthening all of the faithful. As it is said, the faithful are a step below their priest. We hope that in fostering the priestly soul, the souls of the faithful are cultivated as well.
Before departing, the General Superior thanked the priors for their work and wished to offer them a parting word. He stressed that priors will help the goals of the Church through the work of the SSPX. We can see this in the following example:
The pope, in the presence of the pilgrims, praised the bishop because, when a blood transfusion was necessary to save a priest’s life, the bishop offered his own blood. Truly a praiseworthy example, when the shepherd gives his blood for his sheep.
We pray that the fruits of these meetings may be the equivalent of priests giving their life for the faithful—handing on what they have received. All this in the imitation of St. Paul and our beloved Founder who handed on what they received.
 The Great Redeemer by Bishop Tihamer Toth p. 77