Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Parish Priests

Are you close to the priest at your parish? Do you feel as though you could approach him with any thoughts, concerns, or problems you are having in your life? Shelly and I have discussing this topic for a while. After we began our blog and have been meeting so many Catholic families and priests, we realized neither one of us has a personal relationship with our parish priest.

At my old parish, we had three priests, three permanent deacons and over  6,000 families. It was tough to get any one on one time to get close to the clergy. However, my husband and I were close to one of the Deacons. He counseled us while engaged,  performed our wedding, ceremony, and then baptized each of our kids. After ten years at that parish, we moved a couple years ago, and discovered our favorite deacon was also moved to help start a brand new parish in our new community. What fortune. After some time, he left the new parish and I am here without being close to the priest. We still keep in touch with Deacon Bob but really miss seeing him on a weekly basis.

Our new parish has been celebrating Mass for fifteen months, meeting in a gym, with one priest, one deacon, and 410 registered families. This is my first experience with a small parish and it’s been great.  I have to admit that I haven't taken the time to get to know our parish priest, and he does warn us that in a few years, after we build the big church, our parish will grow to be just like the parish I left. Father John counsels that it is up to us, as a community, to maintain this small church feeling that we love, even after we grow into a large parish. Since we broke ground on our new parish property a few weeks ago and the building has begun, I need to seize this opportunity now to develop a relationship with our priest before the parish grows as predicted.




My experience is slightly different, because when I lived in Galveston we got to know the parish priest through our pre-marriage counseling. He was kind, but firm, in guiding us through a number of issues. In turn, we learned about him and from that time on, really felt as though we knew him as a friend. He baptized our older daughter, greeted us personally by name after Mass, and always had a kind word on a personal level. When we moved away from Galveston eight years ago, we briefly considered making the 45 minute drive weekly to continue attending his church, but didn’t.

I had a harder time choosing one of the two churches near my new house, feeling very out of place with these more “modern” styled churches, built in the late 1970s and 1990s. When I became pregnant in 2002, I had to choose one of the two. At the same time, my husband lost his mother and that event threw our family into a grief and angst that made choosing a new church emotionally very difficult. I sometimes wonder what difference it might have made if I had chosen the other parish, but I am involved now in CCE and other volunteer work here, so here I shall stay. I never really knew the parish Carmelite priests, but they were recalled last year, and I’m now considering how I can better know our new parish priests.


What kind of connection do you feel with your priests?

How did that connection develop and grow?

2 comments:

  1. Invite the guy for dinner. On a random night. Take him to a ball game. Priests are men....what's the mystery?

    The way to get to know your parish priest is pretty much the same way you'd get to know any new friend. Only, maybe use a little attention to not creating an awkward situation for him :-)

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  2. I have been blessed with strong relationships with priests throughout my life. I think a big part of that has been my involvement in Catholic schools. The priests I grew up with were around all the time and I had the same wonderful pastor for over 25 years. I loved the Jesuits I met in college and later worked at a Jesuit school. My office was in their residence so we ate lunch every day in their dining room. Now I live in a parish with 5 wonderful priests - each very different - and my kids are in Catholic school. The priests are there nearly every day and we spend a lot of time as a family at church/school events. I really think that's the best way to get to know the priests - be with them. Parishioners need to reach out to them just as much as we expect them to reach out to us. I can't imagine my life without the influence of the clergy that has been a part of my life. I want that for my children too.

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