In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we reflect on the gift of our faith and are reminded of the many gifts over the course of our lifetime—those that have come in packages and those that have not. For many of us, the most treasured gifts are given and received through moments shared with people who inspire us or with someone we love. Perhaps it was the birth of a child, the passing of a loved one, or a time when all we needed was a listening ear. Throughout all those times of sorrow and joy, every one of us has been grateful for the gift of a priest.
In the 200-year history of the Archdiocese of Boston, over 3,000 men have answered the call to the priesthood. Currently, there are 648 active and senior priests in our Archdiocese of Boston who have dedicated their lives in service to our Lord and to all of us. Every day, they live their ministry within and beyond parish boundaries in a variety of roles. Our priests are:
- Pastors in our parishes
- Military Chaplains in the United States and overseas
- Hospital Chaplains providing pastoral care and “on call” at all times
- Campus ministers on more than 20 college and university campuses
- Full-time chaplains in correctional facilities and prisons
Some are former Catholic school students and altar servers. Some were doctors, lawyers, police officers, pilots, and teachers. Some discovered their vocation in their 20s, and some answered the call in their 50s. But all share the same vocation to live and serve God’s people as Christ did—as Catholic priests of Boston.
Many of our 250 senior priests have spent 50 years ministering to God's people. This means that he has celebrated around 20,000 Masses, probably heard 50,000-100,000 confessions, likely baptized 10,000-20,000 children, and has distributed First Holy Communion to about as many. One could only begin to count the number of people he has anointed with the Sacrament of the Sick, the family members he has comforted, or those who come to him in search of spiritual guidance and support upon the death of a loved one. Consider how many people come to him for counseling when life gets tough. The numbers are staggering.
Located in the heart of Boston’s West End neighborhood, Regina Cleri is home to 55 senior priests who have devoted their lives in service to God and His Church of Boston. The average age of Regina Cleri residents is 84 years of age, with four men in their 90s. Together, these faithful servants represent more than 2,800 years of ministry. While these men live in community with their brother priests, there are another 200 senior priests living on their own or in rectories today. Many no longer have family members of their own to care for them; they rely on us—their family in faith—to be there for them, just as they have been there for us.
Fr. Vin Daily, whose vocation story is featured in the video on this page, is one such priest who inspires us all to live each day in the joy that comes from knowing Christ. His story is one of hundreds that many would never know. We invite you to take a moment to watch and share with family and friends.
Every Christmas, parishioners across the Archdiocese of Boston join together in support of their priests through the parish collection for the Clergy Funds. The Clergy Funds care for the health and well-being of our priests, ensuring the highest quality of life that our priests need and deserve. Remember the priests who have made a difference in your life, and consider making a gift in his honor or memory that will help support the priests of our Archdiocese for years to come. If you’re not sure what your level of support should be, perhaps consider how much it would cost to treat a priest whom you admire to dinner, and contribute that amount. Gifts of all sizes make a difference in our ability to care for our priests at this very special time of year.
Throughout their ministry, our priests have given us the gifts of wisdom, comfort, knowledge, strength, hope, and great love modeled in the person of Jesus Christ. Their lives have been a lesson in the selfless act of giving; their legacy is our faith.