On the occasion of the celebration of Father’s Day in America on the third Sunday of June, the National Catholic Register has published an article on the spiritual fatherhood exercised by priests. Among the priests questioned, Redemptorist Father Dennis Billy C.Ss.R., professor of moral theology and spirituality at St. Mary’s Seminary and the University of Baltimore, was asked for his opinion.
“Spiritual fathers must recognise that Christ longs to be born in people’s hearts and allow that to happen,” said Redemptorist Father Dennis Billy, CSsR. “A priest can’t do this by himself,” said Father Billy, who was ordained a priest in 1980.
“He needs strong support from his fellow priests, but he also has to be a deep man of prayer,” he said. “He has to be someone who sees God as a father, to look at Jesus as a brother but also as a father … he has to have a deep sense that he has been called by God to do this special work for his mystical body.”
“Spiritual fatherhood looks different depending on where and how a priest serves,” said Father Billy, who spends much of his time primarily in the teaching office of the priesthood. “No two priests embody ministry in the same way.”
As a professor living on the St. Mary’s Seminary campus, Father Billy said he strives to model spiritual fatherhood for seminarians while teaching them to be mentors and spiritual directors.