Committed to the Priesthood

Fostering ‘a holy and healthy clergy with strong morale and deep fraternity’

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Father David BonnarMore than 25 years of my 32 years as a priest have been spent in parish life either as a pastor or parochial vicar. What a privilege it has been for me to be a parish priest. Parish life and being with God’s people is what attracted me to priesthood in the first place. There is nothing quite like accompanying God’s people in the dyings and risings of life. It is truly humbling to become part of a parish family and just as special being invited to share in family moments with so many.

The seven years outside of parish ministry have been spent forming men for the priesthood as seminary rector and supporting priests as vicar of clergy. What a special ministry this has been walking with the brothers both to and from the altar.

For the past four years, I have been honored to continue ministering to priests on a part-time basis as editor of The Priest Magazine. Every month, our entire publication team works diligently to embrace the Our Sunday Visitor tradition begun by Bishop John Francis Noll of “serving the Church.” This publication of The Priest is a particular way for us to serve priests. We are grateful for the many contributors who provide content to assist us in our mission of “promoting and inviting ongoing human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation.” We hope to foster “a holy and healthy clergy with strong morale and deep fraternity which will continue the work of Christ with a servant’s heart.”

With my appointment as the sixth bishop of Youngstown, Ohio, I will once again have the privilege of supporting priests in ministry, most especially the presbyterate of Youngstown, as well as seminarians who aspire to be priests of Jesus Christ. I am also happy to share with you that I will continue to serve you in my role as editor of this storied publication. I am grateful to the leadership of Our Sunday Visitor, in particular, Gretchen Crowe, editorial director, for allowing me the honor of continuing to serve you as editor. I am equally elated to continue working with the great team of talented individuals who collaborate to produce this monthly publication.

While I have no clear idea just yet of the demands that will be placed on me as a bishop, I feel called to continue serving you in this role. As a priest who has been around the block, so to speak, and faced all kinds of situations, I know how important it is to remain current and to continue growing in the areas of ongoing formation.

The work of preparing this magazine each month with our dedicated team has not only been life-giving for me but also a resource and a key to ministry. This month I will be speaking at the NOCCERC Zoom Conference and much of my talk is supported by some of the familiar expert writers who have graced our pages. I would like to think that the information provided on these pages has made me a better priest.

It remains a mystery to me how and why God called me in my humanness to become a successor to the apostles. The messages I have received from so many clergy, religious and faithful in these months have been humbling and very honest. One of the common phrases I have heard over and over again is that the work will not be easy.

One of the challenges, some might even call it “the elephant in the room,” is addressing the frayed relationship between priests and bishops as a result of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. I pray that by continuing this work of serving you even while assuming the title of bishop I can do my part to encourage trust and healing. We are all in this effort together. I believe that we need to support one another in our respective roles. As a bishop, I do not want to ever take you or the important work you do every day for granted.

I want to say to you what my ordaining bishop said to me privately moments before my ordination: “Thank you for giving your life to the Church.” Let us work together to realize Jesus’ great priestly prayer, which I chose for my episcopal motto, “That all may be one.”

BISHOP DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest and a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, is bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown.

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