As this post is being written, many Bishops and Cardinals are gathered in Rome for the Synod on the Family to discuss various topics such as same-sex relationships and the annulment process. It is quite important – every so often – to pause and consider issues directly connected to intimacy and relationship.

This is precisely what the eleven tertians did recently at our house in Dublin. We were delighted to receive Fr. Kevin O’Rourke SJ and listen to a lengthy talk on the many issues connected to celibacy and the priesthood. Each of us was provided a tremendous opportunity to reflect ever more deeply on issues such as human intimacy, vulnerability, maturity in relationships, interpersonal affectivity, and the importance of friendship.

Many in the Catholic Church easily forget that the vow of chastity does not mean that the priest (or brother or nun) simply turns off his or her sexual identity. Rather, the vow itself calls each person to a deeper understanding of themselves in relationship to others and to God.

Following the talk, we spent the day in small groups discussing our deep desires to grow in holiness and virtue. Each man freely spoke about some of the many graces associated with living the vow as well as some of the real struggles.

We were very grateful for the opportunity to spend time again considering the depth and beauty of the human experience. It will – no doubt – make each member of the program a more affective and effective priest in the vineyard of the Lord. Below is a photo of Fr. Kevin O’Rourke SJ from his visit to the tertianship community.