The following interview with Rev. Stephen Giannini, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, appears in conjunction with the second annual John M. D'Arcy Program in Priestly Renewal happening this week at the McGrath Institute for Church life on Notre Dame's Campus.
Rev. Stephen Giannini was a participant in last year's inaugural John M. D'Arcy program. Rev. Giannini was ordained for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 5, 1993. Currently serving as pastor of Ss. Francis & Clare of Assisi Church, Greenwood, Indiana, he also serves as an associate judge for the Metropolitan Tribunal, confessor for the Little Sisters of the Poor and Sisters of Loretto at St. Augustine Home, and associate spiritual director at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, all in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How do you understand your priestly vocation?
As all Christians are called to love God and to love their neighbor, I believe that the priestly vocation lives out this command through celebrating/officiating at Sacraments; teaching/preaching the Good News; and being a good steward of the administrative tasks we offer. Those we serve will hopefully come to love in a deeper way God and neighbor through our ministry.
In the midst of the sometimes busy, hectic pace of priestly ministry, what do you do to nourish your vocation?
I make sure to nourish my soul with spiritual direction, faithfulness to daily prayer and the divine office, and reminding myself to celebrate and officiate the Sacraments with God’s own love and joy.
How did last summer's John M. D'Arcy Program help foster renewal and refreshment?
The week at Notre Dame last summer was filled with the personal experience of God’s love. I felt His presence in all that we did, and through the care of those who were leading the seminar and supporting us through the week. I thoroughly enjoyed each aspect of the week, and brought back with me an enhanced awareness of the presence of God in my life. Our prayer together, the conferences, the free time, the chapels and shrines, the conversations with the staff and other priests throughout the week all contributed to my experiencing God’s goodness in my life. I only hope I was able to facilitate the presence of God in the same way to the others there that week.
Is there a way that continuing formation of priests at a diocesan level might learn certain principles of how to foster formation and renewal through the seminar given by Msgr. Heintz?
Of course! Here they come:
- Balance—The week at Notre Dame had a great balance of conferences, prayer, sharing in groups, and free time.
- Diversity—That fact that none of us were from the same (arch)diocese allowed us to be more candid during the week. To verbally acknowledge our weaknesses and frailties and not be judged by other priests from our own presbyterate is important.
- Length—One week was just the right length for the program—the first day we still had on our minds our ministries back home, but by mid-week we were, I think, truly present to each other and the program.
- Facilitator—Having Msgr. Heintz, or someone like him, who is friendly, neutral, living his own priesthood faithfully, and yet acknowledging struggles that we all have, is an invaluable model and leader for a formation seminar.
- Location—going to a place dedicated to prayer, the life of the Church, is so important. Seminars and conferences in hotel convention rooms just fall short.
I know one cannot duplicate exactly what I experienced my week at Notre Dame last year, but I hope that those who participate in the program in the future, and in similar programs, have a similarly wonderful and blessed time.
Photos Courtesy the McGrath Institute for Church Life and Rev. Stephen W. Giannini