The following comes from a May 24 story by Valerie Schmalz in Catholic San Francisco.

Saying that “it is a very critical stage in a priest’s journey,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone has instituted a new position focused on mentoring priests for the first five years after ordination.

Archbishop Cordileone appointed longtime Immaculate Heart of Mary pastor and former Junipero Serra High School president Father Stephen H. Howell as part-time director of Ongoing Formation for Newly Ordained Priests, effective July 1. Father Howell was also appointed to a new post as pastor of St. Philip the Apostle in Noe Valley.

“I just thought we needed to do more about bringing them together, praying together, sharing concerns, reflecting together,” Archbishop Cordileone said in a conversation with Catholic San Francisco. It is also a way to formalize his relationship with the new priests, whom he spent a great deal of time with during their formation in the seminary.

The archdiocese already has a director of ongoing priestly formation for all priests, Father William McCain, and each new priest also picks a mentor as recommended by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops document on the formation of priests. This position complements those existing supports.

“Studies and experience show that how those first few years are lived out will have a major impact on a priest’s life,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

Not only is the new priest adjusting to life in the parish, with its demands, and its relationships with parishioners, pastor and staff, but “on a deeper level there is a transition into a priestly identity. This is a whole another part of the journey. Our theology teaches that with priestly ordination, there is an ontological change, one’s being is changed. But that carries with it a psychological adjustment that has to go along with it,” Archbishop Cordileone said. The new priest is also now part of the presbyterate, the body of local clergy….