Being a revert who left the Church in my teens, I spent much of my life without any regular connection with Catholic priests, except for ones I saw on TV. Now, through social media and in-person meetings, I’m happy to have a handful of active priests I can turn to for advice, help with articles and even spiritual direction.
I can’t even remember the name of the priest I had growing up — but when I was in junior high school, I think I thought he was cute — so having your first real encounters with priests as an adult is a different experience than looking up to one as a child.
Also, writing about the Church allows me to tap not only into their pastoral abilities but their education and experiences as individuals, so I get to know them as people and not just as the man at the altar. And I have to say, they’ve impressed me to no end with their knowledge, insight, patience, good humor and deep understanding of human nature.
(Recently, in my other life as an entertainment journalist, I met the Sons of Thunder — two seminarians and a transitional deacon — competing on GSN’s “American Bible Challenge,” if they’re any indication of the priestly up-and-comers, we’re in good hands.)
Especially in this secular age, with its hostility to Christianity, particularly Catholicism — and in the wake of the scandals in which the actions of the evil few tarnished the rest — for a man to have the wherewithal to commit his whole life to the Church, and to walk out into the world wearing that collar, is nothing short of miraculous.
So, when I saw this post at the blog for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) on “19 Ways to Let Your Parish Priest Know You Appreciate Him,” I turned to my priest pals to see if writer Jonathan Teixeira and the parish priests he asked for suggestions got it right.
One said, “Of course!”
The other said, “This is great! Thanks!”
So when you click on this link, you’ll know the suggestions are priest-approved.
Here’s a short preview …
1. Pray for Your Priest(s)
“The most important thing a parishioner can do for his/her priest is pray for them. We are always praying for someone, even required to offer a Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation on behalf of our parishioners. It’s just good to know that they pray for us everyday.”
“A rosary, a holy hour, a small offering or a daily suffering offered for the priest.”
“Send cards to priests with assurances of prayer for their intentions.”
“The offering of prayers for the priest and his ministry. (It’s a great joy to know of prayers since I know that my life and ministry are only as fruitful as the people praying for me.)”
2. Cook Them a Meal, Especially on Their Busy Days
“It would be nice if someone made sure that the priest(s) of the parish had a nice cooked meal on Sundays and major holidays. We often have no cooks and after a long morning, it would be nice to come home to something we didn’t have to make.”
“Find out his favorite meal and make it for him.”
3. Celebrate Their Special Days
“Celebrating the priest’s birthday and ordination day are good thoughts, too.”
“It’s nice to be remembered on the day of my priestly ordination.”
4. Pray More, Complain Less
“The vast majority of interactions seem to revolve around a complaint about the priest, the parish, a parishioner, the music, the temperature in the church, a burned out lightbulb, a decision, etc. and rarely about the supernatural realities.”
5. Offer to Help
“Don’t wait to be asked! Priests are ordained to give, and it’s hard for us to ask for things.”
“Volunteer your time to the parish as a sign of support and service.”
“Consider increasing your tithe to show your support for the parish and priest.”
6. Go to Mass and/or Confession
“Nothing will make a priest happier.”
“Pick a day, go to a Mass that he’s celebrating, and get a bunch of people to sit in the front rows. When Father asks you after Mass why, tell him you were offering your participation at Mass in thanksgiving for his priesthood.”
… now go read the rest!