Ministry ensures prayer, priestly fraternity will ‘never run on empty’ in the local Church

November 9, 2021

Ministry to Priests Office organizes an annual retreat for priests. (Photo courtesy of Ministry to Priests)

HOUSTON — When it comes to supporting the ongoing spiritual, fraternal and pastoral development of priests, the Ministry to Priests ensures that prayer and priestly fraternity will “never run on empty” in the local Church of Galveston-Houston.

“Priests are called and sent into the communities of faith to act in persona Christi, and do not minister solely by themselves nor from their own gifts and capacities, but within the Body of Christ,” said Father Phil “Skip” Negley, M.S., director of the Ministry to Priests of the Archdiocese. “Within this flock, according to Matthew Chapter 25, priests feed, nourish, give drink, clothe, forgive and sustain, as they, too, are fed, nourished and sustained. The Ministry to Priests is one of the many unseen columns of support and spiritual reinforcement that ensures prayer and priestly fraternity will never run on empty.”

Father Negley said the Ministry to Priests provides resources for spiritual direction, sacramental reconciliation, priests support groups, the mentoring of new and recently ordained priests, the visitation of elderly and infirm priests, and the acculturation process for international missionary priests.

Ongoing support includes organizing days of prayer and annual retreats, consultation to the Priests Personnel Committee and the Ongoing Formation of Priests Committee, and inviting fraternity and hospitality to all priests serving in the Archdiocese.

Father Martins Emeh, J.C.L., is a priest that has benefited from the Ministry to Priests and support from Father Negley since he first joined the Archdiocese as an extern priest five years ago.

He attended an orientation program for new priests and first-time pastors when he first met Father Negley and was impressed because this ministry was not offered to priests in his previous diocese.

“In the following months after the orientation, Father Skip would actively seek me out, eager to ensure that I felt welcomed in the Archdiocese and was settling in well,” said Father Emeh. “On about two or three occasions during that first year, I met with Father Skip over lunch to discuss some challenges relative to my priestly assignment at that time and to receive his counsel. He also has tried to help me build fraternity and support with other priests through the dinners and get-togethers he would organize from time to time.”

Father Emeh said he has served as a mentor in the mentoring program for recently ordained priests, which has been very impactful, as well as the annual retreats he has attended.

The Ministry to Priests is one of 60-plus ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). Father Negley is grateful for the support of the faithful in the Archdiocese through their generous giving to the DSF, which ensures that the good works and support provided to priests may continue.

“The Archdiocese prepares, promises and provides a presbyterate in Christ-like service to the people of southeast Texas who strive to serve Our Lord and his Church as holy, healthy and joy-filled priests,” said Father Negley. “The DSF enables these priests to be the ‘best of priests’ by their solidarity with one another and by the fraternal collaboration with the Ministry to Priests.”

Father Emeh agrees that the DSF support enables this invaluable care and service to priests throughout the Archdiocese to continue, which is especially important when the needs of parishes increase and the number of priests available to serve decreases.

“I certainly hope that the faithful in the Archdiocese will continue to support the DSF so that ministries, such as Ministry to Priests, may continue unhindered,” said Father Emeh. “This ministry is truly exceptional, considering the good it does. I could not have assimilated as quickly into the presbyterium of the Archdiocese if it were not for the truly exceptional work of Father Skip and the Ministry to Priests.” †