A Fatherly Priest

For the past two weeks I have been attending daily Mass at a beautiful little parish church in the small town where I live. The parish is in a bit of turmoil as the most recent pastor has announced that he is leaving the priesthood after 18 years of ministry – it seems Father is getting married. What is most distressing about this sad situation is that when Father announced his plans to leave, the congregation APPLAUDED him and wished him luck in his “new life.” Have Catholics been so left in the dark, so weakened in their faith and so indifferent to the current situation in the Church that something as tragic as a priest leaving his vocation provokes only applause and congratulations? This is akin to a man with a wife and children deciding that he wants to leave and start a “new life.” What has happened to the idea of commitment and unselfish service, even in times of suffering and trial?
We have lost respect for the dignity of the priesthood and a life in imitation of Our Lord who endured everything that we endure and much more.
But this post is meant to share a hidden grace and gift given by God to the folks who attend daily Mass at this parish. The elderly priest who has been offering Mass while this chaos has enveloped the parish is the picture of humility, a great example of devotion and selfless commitment to doing the Lord’s work. His quiet demeanor and unassuming manner is a breath of fresh air in the midst of the turbulence caused by proud posturing and self seeking by the vast majority of the souls which he encounters day by day. I watch him as he says Mass with his gentle but firm voice and I can tell he has been through all the battles and wars with the enemy – he has encountered every trial and problem that a truly holy priest is almost guaranteed to face. But, he understands that he is in the school of the Master and the cross of tribulation and trouble is the surest, fastest way to sanctity and happiness.
I found myself face to face with this priest one day as he visited relatives next door. I complimented him on the way he offers the Mass and he just lit up like a Christmas tree. He is childlike – not childish – and dignified. His humility is like a sweet fragrance that pleases those he encounters – probably similar to a certain carpenter from a little town named Nazareth who just happened to change the world. Pray for priests. God Bless.