December 8, 2023
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
My Dear Priestly Brothers,
As we begin a new liturgical year, I am compelled to reach out to as many of you as possible with a simple but profound request - to join me in an important renewal of our priestly lives. I urge you to share this letter with every brother priest you can, even if it means translating it into another language. My hope is that Catholic priests around the world have an opportunity to join me in this renewal.
You may ask, “Who are you to send such an audacious message along with the claim that it should be embraced by every priest in the Catholic Church?” I am simply a priest and bishop who is devoted to our Blessed Mother and her Son, Jesus Christ, and it is through this devotion that I implore you to develop an ever-deepening life in Our Mother and Our Lord. Allow our Mother Mary, who gives us the grace to come unto Him, to lead you to her Son in adoration. There, you will be showered by the light of His Eucharistic Face which will lead you straight to His Eucharistic Heart and, there too, you will be accompanied by His Mother and her Immaculate Heart.
I believe it is time that we become deeply Eucharistic and Marian priests, and that we set aside all the squabbles, confusion and temptations to shape Christ’s Bride according to the world’s will rather than the Will of God. I am reminded of the dream of St. John Bosco in which he sees the Barque of St. Peter in desperate condition with her only hope being a strong tether to the pillar of our Eucharistic Lord, and an equally strong tether to the pillar of His Mother and Our Mother, the Immaculate Virgin Mary. I encourage you to read St. John Bosco’s vision of the two pillars; it speaks of our time.
Brothers, my message is not about another program or some sweeping reform; it is about every priestly heart coming to know the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a transformative way, and the best way to His Sacred Heart is through His Mother’s Immaculate Heart.
While the call to renewal is not complicated nor sophisticated, it will require each of us to lay down our lives for our Lord, who laid down His life for us. Should a priestly brother balk at the call – pray for him, nudge him, implore him to become a Eucharistic and Marian priest.
I hope my heart will speak to your hearts so that we might move, together, ever closer to His Heart, the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is there we find Truth.
Let us fall to our knees and pray, asking the Lord to guide us to a renewal of His Bride through His priests.
Bishop Emeritus Joseph E. Strickland