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Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl speaks July 20 at Creighton University in Omaha at a breakfast for the Institute for Priestly Formation. Photo by Joe Ruff/Staff.

Cardinal Wuerl credits spiritual strength of IPF

An institute devoted to the spiritual formation of seminarians and priests has a strong role to play in the new evangelization, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said July 20 at the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) in Omaha.

With Christ at the heart of all relationships, IPF’s emphasis on bringing priests and seminarians to a stronger love of Jesus helps them lead the faithful with joy and bring the Gospel to greater fruition, Cardinal Wuerl said.

And lay people, assisted by priests and bishops, will help lead others to the truth of Christ’s love, he said. That will happen through courage and boldness, with strong connections to the church, a sense of urgency and compassion, the cardinal said.

Cardinal Wuerl spoke at a breakfast to about 80 supporters and people newly introduced to IPF at the institute’s annual gathering titled "A Reason for Your Hope," held on the Creighton University campus. He also participated in a question-and-answer session with the institute’s executive director, Father Richard Gabuzda.

And the cardinal presided with Archbishop Emeritus Elden Francis Curtiss at a Mass attended by many of the 117 seminarians from around the country participating in the institute’s two-month summer program of spiritual formation, classes and service projects.

Fielding questions from Father Gabuzda about graces and challenges for the church in the United States, Cardinal Wuerl said strengths include an increased awareness of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and lay leadership in parishes allowing priests to spend more time sacramentally with parishioners.

Lay leadership "frees the priest to bring into the community of believers the leaven of the Eucharist, of the sacraments, the leaven of God’s grace," Cardinal Wuerl said.

Challenges include maintaining unity in the church in a changing world, and growing secularism and challenges to religious liberty that call into question the meaning of marriage, respect for human life and other core teachings of the Catholic Church, the cardinal said.

But hope remains, fueled by the graces of baptism, Cardinal Wuerl said.

"The reason for hope is we are baptized," he said. "We have received the Holy Spirit. There is simply nothing to fear. Nothing, no one, can take that from us."

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