We live in a small parish. Recently, we found out that my wife has possible cancerous tumors in her abdominal area. We talked to our new priest about it, and told us to keep him informed, and to call him anytime day or night if we needed to talk or if we needed him. This is so refreshing! The last two priests we were around made no bones about the fact that sick people depressed them, and they would just as soon not be around them. I told my wife that this was bull, and that was part of their job as being a priest. What do you all think? I realize that in big parishes the personal service isn’t possible, but how about in small parishes? Our new priest is 47 and a real people person, and has been packing our church every Sunday since he arrived.
I don’t know that it’s so much the size of the parish as it is the ration of priests to parishioners and the size of the geographic area to be supported. (Some priests serve multiple small parishes which cover large geographic areas.)
What is true is that priests are responsible for seeing that their parishioners have access to the sacraments. Some tasks can be delegated. Often it is the deacon who visits the sick because he can distribute communion to them, bless them, and otherwise offer clerical support. Plenty of EMHCs bring communion to the sick as well.
But only a priest can offer absolution for sins and anoint the sick. And in the case of a pastor… well, hopefully cares about his flock.
I think the heart of a good priest is one that confirms to Christ, even if in limited human ways. Therefore a good priest will correct mistakes, give instructions, and is there when you need him.
While priests may be too busy to be available anytime, in general, priests that complain about sick people are priests that, in my humble opinion, needs more prayer time.
I have known one or two priests who were spooked by sick people, though they did good at serving them in spite of their aversion. I suspected that the sick reminded them of their own mortality.
Please make sure that you help your priest avoid burnout by giving him time to recover from his people-person-ness! I would suggest inviting him for dinner as an act of thanksgiving for his support for you.
Priests are individuals, so it is hard to say that (all) priests should do ‘this or that’ in relation to shepherding their flock on a personal level. They all have specific duties they must do, but they will not all be able to do them with the same gusto because they are all blessed with different gifts.
Many prayers for your wife. It sounds like she has a good shepherd in this difficult time.
You are blessed to have a pastor to shepherd the flock of your parish. You and your wife are in good hands in his prayers and his ministry. God bless.
This is such great advice. My family has never been able to have a priest over for dinner, if we do have dinner it would be the priest hosting for us. Either way, priests are our guide and friend, we should reciprocate.
My impression is that your current priest is fulfilling his priestly duties. However, despite his willingness to talk to you “anytime, day or night”, I would humbly suggest, as have others, that you avoid the late night calls unless you actually need him. As for your comments regarding your previous priests, I will not comment.