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 published: 2009-06-16

A Noticeably Pauline Priestly Image

Interview with Msgr. Peter Wolf on the Occasion of the Year for Priests


P. Josef Kentenich: die Feier seines 100. Priesterweihetages fällt (fast) mit dem Priesterjahr zusammen

El Padre José Kentenich: la celebración del centenario de su ordenación conincide con el Año Sacerdotal

Fr. Joseph Kentenich: the centenary of his ordination falls into the Year of Priest

P. Josef Kentenich: die Feier seines 100. Priesterweihetages fällt (fast) mit dem Priesterjahr zusammen


Dr. Peter Wolf

Dr. Peter Wolf

Dr. Peter Wolf

Dr. Peter Wolf

Das neue Buch mit Texten von P. Kentenich zum Priestertum  

El nuevo libro con textos del Padre Kentenich sobre el sacerdocio

The new book with texts by Fr. Kentenich on priesthood

Das neue Buch mit Texten von P. Kentenich zum Priestertum

Schon beim ersten Durchblättern wird klar: da sind Schätze drin  

Un contenido fascinante...

Fascinating aspects

Schon beim ersten Durchblättern wird klar: da sind Schätze drin

Foto: Archiv © 2009


SCHOENSTATT/ROME, mkf. At 6:00 P.M., June 19th, solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Pope opened the Year for Priests, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney. Among those attending the celebration of vespers in the Vatican Basilica, were many priests and seminarians from Rome. Before beginning the celebration, the Pope prayed before the relics of the Holy Curé of Ars which were brought by the bishop of the Belley-Ars Diocese, Bishop Guy Bagnard. At the close of this year, from June 9th to June 11, 2010, priests from all over the world will come on pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Square where they will publicly renew their promise of fidelity to Christ.

Msgr. Peter Wolf, rector general of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, in an extensive interview on the occasion of the Year for Priests, spoke about the significance of the year for Priest and the new book which has texts from Father Kentenich on the priesthood. He also spoke on why this Year for Priests is a reason for great joy for the Schoenstatt Family.

1) The Year for Priests began on Friday, June 19th. As a representative of a priestly community extended throughout the world, what are your expectations of this event?

At first, as it happened with the Year of St. Paul, I was surprised that in March of this year, Pope Benedict announced the Year for Priests… inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the first place, I have the expectation that this year will be a year which provides encouragement to many priests. I hope that it captures many brothers of my community as well as other priestly groups and movements in the Church, and as it happened in the Year of St. Paul, that it awakens creativity and life. In summary, I hope that for many members of the Church, priestly service may be totally understood according to the Council… service to the common priesthood of all who are baptized and that it can be thus experienced more greatly.

2) Cardinal Claudio Hummes wrote an extensive letter to priests on the occasion of this Year for Priests. How has this letter most touched you personally?

That Cardinal Hummes speaks of a "positive year" in this letter has really touched me and that the Church wants to show that She is proud of her priests and is grateful for the service they render. Also mentioned are the errors of the priests – even punishable culpability – but this does not surpass the great commitment and the positive testimonies of life for the greater majority of priests.

3) Cardinal Hummes invited everyone to celebrate the opening of the Year for Priests everywhere. How has Schoenstatt celebrated the opening of this Year?

In Schoenstatt, we celebrated the opening of the Year for Priests in a Covenant of Love Holy Mass on the eve of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. Franz Brugger, provincial superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers in Germany and president of the national presidium, presided at the Eucharist. On this occasion, he invited the Schoenstatt Family to participate in the celebration of the Year for Priests.

4) In this letter, the Cardinal also makes an invitation for exemplary priestly figures from parishes and communities to be presented. Spontaneously, which priestly personalities do you remember? What can they show to priests and to the entire Church? Which priest is an example for you?

I am convinced that all dioceses will be able to highlight – even in their most recent history – priestly figures who are valuable and even outstanding. I think it will be worthwhile to preserve the memory of such exemplary priests and, for example, present each month one of those priestly models in the diocesan bulletins. Immediately I have before me the testimony of the life of Father Joseph Kentenich, the Founder of the Schoenstatt Work and my priestly community. His expressions and his priestly service show me many aspects of what it is to be a priest and he is the model for my priesthood. I also think of Blessed Carl Leisner who was ordained a priest in the Dachau Concentration Camp. His struggle for embracing the priestly vocation is an example for me and it can be a great help for the youth and seminarians regarding the question of a vocation.

5) You have published a book for the Year for Priests. What is it about? What has motivated you to publish it precisely at this time?

Before knowing the Holy Father’s intention of proclaiming a Year for Priests, I had begun – along with brother priests of my Institute – to compile texts from our Founder on the priesthood. This was in preparation for the centennial celebration of the ordination to the priesthood of Father Kentenich (July 8, 1910). They are the texts of a great priestly educator. In the 1930’s, one third of the German clergy participated in the religious exercises which he presented. For the selection of the texts, I especially took into consideration, brother priests who would seek material for personal reflection on their priestly service. It was a joyful Divine Providential plan that this book had been planned previously and is now available at the beginning of the Year for Priests. The title of the book is: "CALLED, CONSECRATED, SENT" and is published by Schoenstatt Publishing House.

6) Which are the most important topics mentioned in this book, especially regarding the Year for Priests?

In this book, there are texts on the challenging and controversial expectations which exist on the priesthood…..explanations on the understanding of priests on these questions…..also, on the spiritual life and style of living for priests. Perhaps I can mention simply one of the titles: Expectations of the priest. Participation in the priesthood of Christ. A profoundly prophetic mission. Guidance on the Good Shepherd. The priest and the Virgin Mary. The priest is not alone. Available for the new vocations…..

7) In which languages will the book appear?

Based on the first echoes on the book within the Schoenstatt Movement, I know of the following initiatives until now: in Chile, the Schoenstatt Fathers have begun to translate it into Spanish. In Brazil, the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary are planning to translate it into Portuguese. In the USA, an English version is being prepared, and in Burundi, the French translation is underway.

8) What format will the Schoenstatt priestly communities give to the Year for Priests?

Before the proclamation from Rome and in light of the centennial of the priestly ordination of their founder, the Schoenstatt priestly communities had already made plans. It is their intention to make use of this year to reflect on the priesthood and on their original mission. For this jubilee, two more publications have been planned: the first is a book of testimonies on Joseph Kentenich the priest, and the second is a scientific publication with reflections on the priesthood. In our priestly communities, the spiritual exercises for the year have been foreseen as a reflection on the grace and the challenge of priestly consecration.

This compilation of texts aspires to be not only a help for personal meditation, but also to serve as a topic of conversation in the groups and courses of the communities. A planning group is working to make it possible for many of our brother priests throughout the world to participate in the great closing session of the Year for Priests which will take place with the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square. Additionally, in a united effort with the priests of the Focolare Movement, we have taken the initiative to organize a great congress in Rome which will put into effect an international spiritual exchange among the priests. In Schoenstatt, we will celebrate the closing of the Year for Priests in the context of the centennial celebration of the priestly ordination of our Founder. We will celebrate his anniversary in the Limburg Cathedral with the diocesan bishop, Bishop Dr. Tebartz van Elst and we are invited to the Mission House of the Pallottine Fathers where Father Kentenich was ordained to the priesthood on July 8, 1910.

9) What do you consider as the central goal for the image of the priest today?

I think that it will be important for priests, with their service and their being, to be witnesses of God and broaden his horizon. Their task of being builders of bridges becomes evermore present in a secular world where the view of the supernatural reality is lost.

10) What do you consider to be the central message from Father Kentenich to the priests of today?

In his priesthood, Father Kentenich was markedly centered on St. Paul. He frequently invited his brother priests to turn to the school of St. Paul. His self-awareness as a priest demonstrates marked Pauline and prophetic traits. He understood the priest, not in the first place – or exclusively – by his underlined function in the liturgy, but like someone motivated like St. Paul to be a bearer of life like a father or a mother: in the foundation of communities and in the starting of new Christian life. For Father Kentenich, the priest is called to serve in a self-sacrificing way the vocation to the general priesthood of all those who are baptized, and to serve the special vocation of each individual. In my opinion, Father Kentenich encouraged us to understand the Year for Priests as a continuation of the Year of St. Paul and that we make this connection fruitful. This epoch is very similar in many aspects to that of St. Paul. A noticeably Pauline priestly image is needed in which the missionary and prophetic traits can shine brightly.

11) You knew Father Kentenich personally. Which is the strongest memory you have of him as a priest?

If you ask me for my personal experiences with Father Kentenich, it comes to my attention that I was never with him in the celebration of the Eucharist. I only remember him in a group meeting or in a conference which he gave to a large circle. Nevertheless, it was always clear to me: I met a priest who was convinced that he lives for God and his world. As a student, a phrase in the writings of Father Kentenich caught my attention: the "reality of the supernatural." He was for me in an increasing form, a credible witness to the reality of faith. He continued on his way with the God of life in a down to earth way…..sober, with faith in Divine Providence… was this way throughout his life. How he handled the challenges of his life – in the concentration camp and in the exile – was for me a confirmation of his credibility. The interior attachment with this witness to the faith helps me to believe in God and to thus motivate others. Can something more beautiful be said of a priest?

  • Wolf, Peter (Hg.): Berufen, geweiht, gesandt. Ausgewahlte Texte von P. Josef Kentenich uber das Priestertium. Schonstatt-Verlag Vallendar, 184, S., ISBN 978-3-935396-21-9 (German)

Interview conducted by Sr. M. Kornelia Fischer

The interview was published by Zenit, in German and Spanish.

Translation: Carlos Cantú Schoenstatt Family Federation La Feria, Texas USA 070209



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