The focus of our mission is assisting senior priests because of the special role they have in our lives and in gratitude for their having dedicated their entire lives to the service of God and to us in the Church. Priests take care of us spiritually through the gift of their vocations: they bring us into the Church through baptism; offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for our salvation; give us Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist; forgive our sins through confession; give us Jesus’ healing in the anointing of the sick; pray for us constantly; are always available to listen, console and guide us; and when we are sick, they visit us. God has given us priests as our spiritual fathers, and if they need assistance, we want to help them just as they have always helped us.
As the Second Vatican Council taught, “The Christian faithful, for their part, should realize their obligations to their priests, and with filial love they should follow them as their pastors and fathers. In like manner, sharing their cares, they should help their priests by prayer and work insofar as possible so that their priests might more readily overcome difficulties and be able to fulfill their duties more fruitfully.”(Presbyterorum Ordinis 58)
Senior priests experience unique challenges related to their vocation. They don’t have children to care for them if they become sick and often their relatives are either elderly themselves or busy helping their families. Their family is the Church, but when they can no longer remain in active ministry, they can become isolated from their brother priests and the laity, at a time they most need to be part of a Catholic community. Another cause of sadness for some priests in nursing homes is that they still want to be able to minister to others, but because of physical limitations, they no longer have the opportunity to do so. An important part of our mission is to support priests in their vocation and so we will provide senior priests opportunities to remain involved in their ministry to the extent that they are able to. Priests who are not well enough to assist in parishes can pray with people, hear confessions, participate at Community meetings, and give spiritual guidance. We do our mission for love of Jesus, with His help, and in gratitude for priests who take care of us spiritually through the gift of their vocation.
As Saint John Paul II taught us, mercy must be bilateral. “An act of merciful love is only really such when we are deeply convinced at the moment that we perform it that we are at the same time receiving mercy from the people who are accepting it from us.” (Dives in Misericordia) The senior priests and laity involved with the Community of Mary, Mother of Mercy, offer mutual assistance to one another. The senior priests help the lay members by being our spiritual fathers and friends, praying with us and for us, advising our Community, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, giving spiritual direction and guidance, and listening to us. The lay members help senior priests by our prayers, friendship, and visits. An important part of our mission is that we realize that we minister to one another, with the help of Jesus and Mary.