Monday, December 12, 2011
When You Meet a Good Priest, You Just Know It
Back in April, I was given responsibility for a second parish and in June, another priest was assigned to assist me in my pastoral responsibilities for both parishes. Although I had lived with other priests before and have had a handful of seminarians live here at various times, the thought of having a priest move in after I had been alone for three years, made me a little nervous. Had I become too use to leaving alone?
In the gospel, Jesus speaks about how good shepherds are not like the hired hands. The hired hands do whatever is expedient and easy. When trouble comes, they run away and leave the sheep to fend for themselves. Having been a pastor for about eight years now, I realize that I have become protective of my sheep. I only want the very best for them. I guard them.
So, I knew I didn't want a priest who would preach crazy things, offer the Mass in a cavalier manner, or who would be unkind to the people. These were my general concerns about anybody coming here. What did we get?
We got a young priest who patiently puts up with all of my flaws. He devoutly offers the Mass each day. He goes over to church every morning at 6:20--even when he doesn't have the Mass--to lead the people in the praying of the Rosary. He spends a considerable amount of time preparing his homilies. He is joyful. He loves the people. He devotedly visits the sick. He prays. He visits the school, the religious education program, and he makes himself available for confessions.
The people love him and that makes me very happy. It is always a source of sorrow when a parish has a priest who doesn't exude a love for the priesthood, a love for the people, and a love for the Church. Usually, when these loves are missing, the priest is given over to complaining to the people about the hierarchy, complaining about the people to other priests, and complaining to everybody about how busy he is. I am very grateful that the priest with whom I live loves the Church, loves the people, loves the priesthood, and loves his day off--but happily sacrifices that day off whenever needed, in order to love others first.
The people of St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Margaret's got a great priest.