Nov. 4-10, 2004
By Father Donald Bourgeois/ SUN episcopal laison
Honoring Service Father Stephen Rossetti of Syracuse Receives Award for Special Ministry
Father Stephen Rossetti, a priest of the Diocese of Syracuse, was recently honored (October 6) with the 2004 Alumnus Lifetime Service Award of Theological College in Washington, DC. Father Rossetti attended Theological College at The Catholic University of America in the early 1980s. He graduated with M.A. and Doctorate of Ministry degrees in 1984, the same year of his ordination. The award was presented as part of Theological College’s annual alumni days gathering.
Father Rossetti initially served as a parochial vicar at St. Patrick’s Church and St. James Church in the Southern Tier of the diocese. In 1996 he was named president and chief operating officer of the Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, MD, a nationally recognized psychiatric hospital, education and research facility for Roman Catholic clergy and religious. In his 12 years of ministry at St. Luke’s, Father Rossetti has been widely published , appeared on TV programs to discuss the clergy sex abuse crisis and has addressed many professional groups and presbyteral gatherings on the topics of priestly spirituality, psychosexual development and integration, wellness and mental health.
Earlier in the day Father Rossetti addressed other Theological College alumni. His presentation was entitled “Living Healthy As A Priest.” In his remarks Father Rossetti explained why all priests are impacted by the events of the past two years. “The mental and spiritual health of the priest is not simply an individual phenomenon. The health of the group impacts greatly the well being of the one,” he said. He also warned those in attendance of the new challenges facing priests today: “With decreasing numbers of clergy and increasing demands, the tendency will be to overwork, to become more isolated and to experience greater stress.”
In his closing comments, Father Rossetti said that the priesthood today is psychologically and spiritually sound, despite the stereotype often presented by the media. He cited the five characteristics of a well-adjusted priest: affection for brother priests, strong human bonds, love of the Church, mature obedience to his bishop and awareness of his personal call by God. In his remarks at the recognition dinner where the award was presented, Father Rossetti had high praise and gratitude for the Sulpician training he received at Theological College. The seminary is staffed by priests of the Society of St. Sulpice, a community composed of priests released by their individual dioceses to work in seminary formation.
He also expressed his gratitude to the Bishops Moynihan and Costello of the Syracuse Diocese who have supported him in his ministry outside the diocese. He also said how grateful he was to have the support of his brother priests of Syracuse. Father Rossetti described St. Luke’s Institute as “a place of conversion,” to which priests and religious men and women come when they are at their most vulnerable. He said, “Often they believe that God’s forgiveness is for others, not for them. They have to be reminded that they are Christians, too, and that the Gospel applies to them.” Referring to his early experiences with the Carthusian monks with whom he first studied, Father Rossetti said his observance of a holy hour each day has given him the grace and strength to perform his ministry.
He encouraged the priests, seminarians and all in attendance to make Eucharistic adoration a part of their daily lives, especially in this Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by Pope John Paul II. The award dinner was attended not only by classmates and priests but also by some of Father Rossetti’s staff at St. Luke’s and friends from his days in the Air Force. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
The thirteen previous winners of this award include Bishop Thomas Costello of Syracuse (2003), Cardinal Joseph Bernadin of Chicago (1997), scripture scholar Father Raymond Brown (1996) and Cardinal James Hickey of Washington, DC (1993).