At the Annual general Meeting of the ACCC, held during our recent conference in Sydney, I was elected as National Chairman of our Confraternity. It was an honour to be elected after 4 years away from the executive. I would like to record the debt of gratitude we owe to Fr Michael Kennedy, Parish Priest of Leeton in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga for his four years of leadership. During the time of Fr Michael’s chairmanship, the idea of holding a joint international conference was followed up and the wheels set in motion for the idea to become a reality. We are very excited about the forthcoming conference in Rome during January. On your behalf I thank all the members of the previous Executive and welcome the new Executive.

In conjunction with our USA brothers of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a wonderful gathering of anglophone priests from around the world will converge on Rome under the shadow of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. It is an occasion of grace for us all to go on pilgrimage to Rome: videre Petrum during the “Year for Priests.”

The Conference will be an occasion for deepening our relationship and commitment to Christ and the Sacred Priesthood through lectures, worship and fraternity: to know, worship and love.

Some excellent speakers have been arranged to address topics related to the priesthood, preaching, the sacred liturgy, and the care of souls. We will be privileged to participate in the Papal Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany in St Peter’s Basilica. We will be honoured by the presence and liturgical celebration of Prefects and officials of the Roman Curia: Cardinal Canizares, Cardinal Stafford, Archbishop De Noia and Archbishop Burke, amongst others.

The conference will be held in beautiful surroundings at the Casa Bonus Pastor very close to St Peter’s Basilica. For the celebration of Mass and some of the Liturgy of the Hours we will visit the Basilicas of St John Lateran, St Paul Outside the Walls and St Peter’s Basilica.

My earnest request to each of you is: “Come to Rome.” For Australian priests the month of January is a quiet one. We are freer to leave our parishes and apostolates to fulfil that great hope we have had to come together with brother priests from around the world. This will be an opportunity to give support to each other by a growth in love and devotion. Let us not forget one of the aims of the ACCC is:

“To foster unity among Catholic priests and deacons with the bishops in loyalty to the Supreme Magisterium.”

I can think of no better way to assist this aim than by being in Rome during “The Year for Priests” and celebrating the great gift that has been shared with us with brother priests from all over the world. This will truly confirm within us the sense of the catholicity of the faith and the unity of the priesthood.

I look forward to seeing you in Rome for what shall be a tremendous occasion.

Ad Romam, urbem aeternam!

Rev John Walshe is parish priest of Mentone in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and a founding member and current national Chairman of the ACCC.