I attend a small to medium size parish and have been a member for several years. Both myself and my wife are heavily involved in extra ministries. Recently, I had an argument with one of the deacons. We were best of friends but subsequent gossiping/deceitful behavior made it clear to me that the friendship was not genuine, or at least, he wasn’t respecting me as friends should. I have made several efforts to work things out, being shunned at every turn. He even “unfriended” me on Facebook. I also brought all of this to the attention of the priest. This in hindsight was a mistake because there turns out to be a strong relationship between the priest and the deacon such that they both now shun me. By that I mean they don’t talk to me and I feel very unwelcome at the parish. Unfortunately this is the only parish near me. The only consolation that I have is that I have learned that this behavior is not uncommon. There have been many over the year that have been treated likewise by these clergy. The question I have to the forum is, do they have a right to treat people this way? In other words, a fellow Catholic told me that their only job is to administer sacraments. Is that correct? Or is this behavior the way it is because this is the only catholic parish in this remote area? My Protestant friends tell me that the pastor is to be the Shepard of the flock, that this behavior is not right. I know the Catholic church is very precise about what duties and sacraments that an ordained person can and must perform, but does it say anything to, like, being nice? Or is their job description so vague that it allows them to neglect common sensibilities?
Welcome to CAF!
I am sorry to hear that you have experienced this. To answer your question, no, the clergy are not simply sacramental Pez dispensers. They do have many other responsibilities and obligations towards their flock.
The clergy are still human, though, and subject to the same foibles as the rest of us. Regrettably, things like this do happen. They shouldn’t, but they do.
I’m not sure I have much good advice for where to go from here. It’s difficult if it is the only Catholic parish in your vicinity. Perhaps you could make a special trip to another parish just to talk to another priest. Don’t name names or come across as bad-mouthing another priest. But simply ask what you can do from here.
I will say a prayer fro you.
I am sorry this happened to you. Given that you are so far from another parish I would suggest that simply bide your time until the priest in transferred. Um, I try just try to stay out of the center of power or controversy, which means I am not all that involved in my parish. If things get difficult you might want to rethink how far is far when going to the next parish over.
To answer your question, the priest is plucked out from the flock for the express duty to bring the sacraments to the faithful. That’s his no.1 concern. If one is not interested in this, then he should not become a priest. Without a priest there is no Mass, no Confession. As for deacons, they are called to preach and spread the Gospel. That’s about it. This is their main function. And for a permanent deacon this will be the case all his life. He doesn’t have much authority. For transitional deacons, there is one more obligation, to prepare for priesthood.
All this, doesn’t mean that one must be rude. It’s just a sign of uneducated behavior. But they are called to stand tall for the faith, even at the expense of their well-name. From what you described, it doesn’t seem to be about the latter, but the former. So, I say, pray for them, and forgive them in your heart. And if it takes you to drive 50 miles for a good Mass and Confession, then it is worth the distance, and God will reward you for your fidelity. I am truly sorry for the situation. I hope that somehow a solution will be found, but forgive them.
And, btw, welcome to CAF! God bless! :tiphat:
QUOTE=Alphadawn;12115887 My Protestant friends tell me that the pastor is to be the Shepard of the flock, that this behavior is not right.
I’m sorry you are having this issue. Parish politics are personalities can sometimes be difficult. Being in a remote area doesn’t help because folks don’t really have options. Of course they are supposed to be kind and forgiving in their roles as clergy. As others have suggested, pray for them and be nothing but gracious. Kill em with kindness as they say. I quoted part of the original post and I would warn against talking about this to your Protestand and Catholic friends. You know if they are being unkind without asking others’ opinions and if they know about these discussions (and in a small town they might) that might make things worse.
Deacons baptize, marry and bury people.
They do a lot more than occasionally preach. They also visit the homebound, the nursing homes, communion services at retirement facilities, minister to the homeless, visit the Catholic schools, teach in RCIA, do marriage prep, altar server training, etc.
Having read the OP, I’m sorry to hear this, but it’s never a good idea to talk to one ordained person about another. Even if you didn’t mean to, you may have come across as complaining or critical. Hard lesson to learn, but naturally, they defend one another. While I understand the OP was hurt by the Deacon, one should just let it go. Perhaps others have the same experience, no need to tell anyone.
Stay right where you are, You deserve to worship in your home parish. If they can’t forgive, it’s their problem. Pray for reconciliation on the part of everyone.
Eventually it will blow over. I wouldn’t turn tail and run. Maybe one day in the future, you will have an opportunity to make peace with the Deacon. You never know…
You are right, I forgot about taking the sacraments to the sick and disabled. But the other things can well be done by someone else, it is not required for a deacon to be present, like a priest is needed for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A deacon can help, but he is necessary in no way. I was talking about his essential duties, not about what he does with his free time.
Well, it must be very different at your parish. We have 4.5 Deacons (one in training) and they are present at every Mass at the altar. You’re right, they don’t HAVE to be, they all choose to be.
Our deacons baptize children almost every Saturday and Sunday. Their role is to get to
the people that the priest cannot. One of our Deacons is assigned to RCIA as its director. One is assigned to monitor the finances. One is assigned to Social Justice, and the last is assigned to the funeral homes. They take turns on a rotating basis at the hospitals, retirement homes, and schools. With a couple of them still having full time jobs, they really don’t have much free time.
“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
-St John of the Cross
I would recommend that you just pray for your priest and deacon every day, and always do your best to show them Christ-like love, no matter their behavior.
We need to pray more for our priests. They are sinners, like us, and much in need of our prayers, but they also have a great vocation given to them by God to love and tend the sheep in their flock.
I’m very sorry that you are currently ‘cross-ways’ with the clergy at your parish. It sounds like you’ve discussed this with many people (which I wouldn’t recommend). Do your best to curb that if you can; it’s hard, I know!
Clergy are people, just like us. Even the Pope isn’t sinless; he attends Confession regularly. However, it hurts when someone we look up to, count on to lead us in the Catholic life, lets us ‘down’. Are we still supposed to love them, and forgive them? Yes…sigh.
We are not called to be insensitive, rude, uncaring, mean…no matter what job we have on earth. Does it happen? Yes, in almost every profession. Not one of us is perfect.
My advice is this:
Pray. Pray for guidance in this from God. Pray for the people that have hurt or offended you. Pray to be free from this anger and hurt. And in the meantime, keep this between you and God as much as possible; and your wife, if you need to vent. Continue to attend Mass and worship. Pray some more.
After a suitable time has passed, perhaps make an appointment with the priest. Be humble; ask for his forgiveness (I realize right now you might not feel like you have done anything wrong…but perhaps you’ve hurt the priest and/or the deacon in their view).
God bless and keep you.
Considering infrequent hours and days confession is available
And the fact that mass times are being condensed in my area (some masses dropped, Sundays and Weekdays)
And the fact that I was once at a Confirmation without a Bishop (an Abbott from a local Abbey pinch hit while the Bishops were … doing something else)
My dark side is tempted to replace ONLY with EVER in the headline.
The Sacraments are channels of God’s grace to immortal souls.
Business meetings, fundraisers, being a colorful and genial figurehead – have their place but …
Then too I hate erudite critics who just state the obvious without offering much help to solve the problem. So … mea culpa.
But there’s enough substance in this point of view to post for your consideration IMO anyhow.
I would meet with your priest and state how you feel–shunned by both him and the deacon. Ask what can you do to make it better but also make it clear that if you feel unwelcomed at the parish then perhaps you feel unwelcomed to volunteer. But let your priest know why before you just walk away–in a nonconfrentational way.