A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Caring for our Priests

By Bridget Taumoepeau

The Synodal process has recently concluded in our parishes and dioceses. Understandably, one of the main topics was the role of the laity and the wish that lay people have more formation and be more involved in the leadership of the Church. The principle of collaborative ministry was raised.

There is criticism and sorrow that the church has not acknowledged the role that laity, and perhaps particularly women, have played in various ministries and the passing on of the faith. Sometimes this has obscured the debt of gratitude that we owe to our priests, particularly at this time when they are suffering from the hurt of accusations of clericalism and abuse, neither of which may apply to them personally. 

Even if lay people take on more leadership roles, priests will continue to be sacramental ministers, administering the all-important sacraments to us. They have the training and formation and the dedication of a celibate vocation, devoted to the Gospel and the nourishing of the faith of the people of God.

In the quest to give greater prominence to the role of the laity, we must not forget that we need to cherish our priests; thank them for the service they give us; for the difficult moments in our lives when they have walked with us; for the many tasks they undertake; for their availability; for the endless requests they receive; for service.

A wise priest friend of mine in Ireland, when discussing the troubles in today’s church, said that he always felt that even when parishioners were critical of the institution of the church, they “always loved their parish priest”. Let us hope that we continue that caring and love, even as we hope to have greater roles ourselves. By doing so, we can contribute to the mission of the church through all our own individual vocations. The very essence of collaborative ministry.

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