Seattle Vocations Blog

Thoughts from priests, seminarians, and religious on discernment
and living out your vocation in the real world.

 

How Can I Support My Priests?

September 14, 2016

My experience of being a priest for more than 9 years is that it is a joyful life, it’s filled with great blessings but it is very demanding. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.  

I imagine it’s kind of like being a parent of a kid – the joys are so immense but then the hardships are so tough! And that’s part of what Archbishop Sartain calls ‘the demands of love’.  The demands of love in any vocation are that we pour ourselves out for the needs of others.

As priests we’re happy to do that and we’re happy to collaborate with different members of the church to carry out our ministry.  But here are some ways in which you can really help your pastor (or perhaps if it’s a newly ordained priest or a priest who’s a priest administrator for the first time). These are practical, tangible things you can do for them that will help move them forward and feel fulfilled in what they’ve been called to do.

1: Pray For Your Priests

I understand most of our readers probably do that, so that’s great. Keep it up.

Pray for a couple things:

  • First, pray for wisdom in all the different situations and people that priests are called to interact with. Pray that they will be led to God’s Will.
  • Secondly pray for courage to keep living this vocation in the midst of a culture that is not supportive in many respects. Pray for strength that they won’t get tired and be able to keep hanging in there and doing the good work we’re called to do.  
  • I always like to pray for hope because sometimes as a priest you can get a little discouraged. You don’t see where all your efforts are going, things seem to keep coming around, we’re not always sure if we’re making progress or not.
  • Offer a Mass for them, maybe some time in adoration, pray a rosary at home; pray for your local priest. That’s a great, great blessing.

2: Invite Your Priest Into Your Life

There are lots of ways to connect with your priest on a basic human relational level. It might just be seeing someone chatting with a priest after mass. It might involve hanging out with the priest at a parish potluck, maybe some common ministry that’s being offered, maybe a nursing home Mass or some youth ministry endeavor.  But if you do want to invite a priest over for a meal, that’s a great blessing. Priests enjoy that very much. They like to come and be able to see your life and come and spend time with you outside of the parish. It helps build trust and relationship.

A couple things to keep in mind with those meals, each priest handles it differently. But I know what I always appreciate is: to schedule fairly far in advance and try to figure out a good time that’s going to work out for everybody.  Maybe invite one or two other parishioners or families that you know to come over as well. Then the priest is able to maximize their time a little more, share time with a few different parishioners, be able to hang out, see which parishioners hang out together already and are friends outside of the parish. It could just be a great blessing.

3: Come with Solutions, not just Suggestions

As a priest, I get lots of parishioners bringing me suggestions of ways to build the parish and their faith.  These are great because that means you’re active in your faith and thinking of ways to come closer to Christ.

However, if you come with a suggestion to a priest, like ‘we need this type of prayer group’ or ‘we need this kind of ministry to the homebound’ or ‘this kind of thing to the homeless’ or ‘we want this retreat offered’, don’t just come with the suggestions but also come with a solution!

‘Father, I’d love to have this prayer group and this is how I can help you make it happen.’  Give a tangible sense that you’re not only bringing this concern or need, you’re also volunteering to make that happen. And if you’re not able to or willing, just say maybe there are other people that could help or direct in that way. Because the challenge for the priest is that we hear a lot of these different needs and can feel overwhelmed, like we’re the ones who have to figure all this out, even with our parish staff.  But if you come and say ‘here’s my suggestion and I’ve thought about this and here’s some options, can we chat about it?’  That really helps to open up a priest’s mind and heart to the possibility, so they know it’s not just going to be them carrying this load.

When in doubt, ask your priest!
Tell him you're praying for him and ask him how you can best support him.

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