Loving Creator God,
You always lead your people
in ways of loving kindness,
even in times of struggle:
turning Exile into Exodus,
bringing desert places into bloom,
rekindling hope in broken hearts.
You sent your Son, the Good Shepherd,
the pattern of all ministry,
to lay down his life for his flock
and so to gather the lost and stray,
leading us home rejoicing into your eternal Kingdom.
We pray for our Bishop (Name),
our priests and deacons
and all who have a ministry of leadership
in these difficult days.
Keep them safe and well.
Give them the heart of the Shepherd
and the smell of the sheep,
with a passionate care for the people entrusted to them
and a deep trust in your goodness.
Give them words to encourage,
gestures to soothe,
imaginative ways to keep
their scattered flocks as one
in faith and hope and love.
Grant them rest from their labours
in these shuttered days.
And in all things give them joy,
the joy of the Gospel,
and a deep trust that our road ends
not on Good Friday but at the Easter Dawn.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
© Rob Esdaile, 2020
(At least 60 priests have so far died in Italy from the Coronavirus, in the Dioceses of Bergamo, Parma, Cremona. Milan, Lodi, Brescia, Pesaro, Nuoro, Ariano Irpino, Salerno, Casale Monferatto, Tortona, Trentoand Brescia. Many more are being treated in hospital.Two bishops are currently undergoing treatment.)
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