What happened to a good friendship?


#1

I am new at this so I am not sure where I should be posting this. Anyway,I have been married for over 40 yrs & had just lost my husband a few months ago. I have had a difficult time getting back to society with my new status 'single'. The Catholic priest who performed my husband's memorial mass & inurnment became a family friend. He had been at the house with other guests for gathering on a few occasions. He mingled with everyone & had a good time. My children & friends will now be wondering when he is not present at any gathering from now on. My husband & I used to eat breakfast at a restaurant once a week so there was a time when I wanted to eat out. My female friends do not get up early & I have a hard time eating by myself so I figured that asking the priest would be harmless. The priest agreed and while we were eating I asked him if it would be appropriate to asked him for breakfast every now & then since I don't want him to get in trouble. He said that he eats with other parishioners so it should not be any problem. After a month or so thru an email, I asked him again to have breakfast at a restaurant that I have been wanting to try & he replied back with a date. On that day I waited outside the restaurant for about 15 mins & I figured that he forgot about it and called him up. There was no answer so I left a message asking him to call me back. I never heard from him but the next day his homily was on 'overextending hospitality' of which has to end for whatever reason. I was so shocked.What have I done to deserve this? Why did he not just talk to me directly instead of doing it in the pulprit? As God is my witness, I have no intention of having any kind of relationship with him or any other men other than friendship! I know that his passion is his priesthood! I feel so sad & betrayed that it had to end this way. I am still hoping & praying that eventually I would hear from him & find out the truth. He was a good friend helping me during this difficult time with his spiritual support.He has not been doing the Mass as often as he used to so some parishioners are wondering what's going on. I would hate to see him get transferred to another diocese because he really likes where he's at right now but I think this is already being worked out. I am now back to being more withdrawn from friends than ever more. Even going to church is getting difficult. It is so hard when parishioners are talking about him. I would be at church & just burst out crying. I have been going to this parish for over 30 years & I would hate to go to a different one now. Also, my conscience is clear & if I move that would just confirm that I am guilty. If he reads this, I wish him well!


#2

Dear Lillbet,

I am so very sorry for your loss. How blessed you are to have seen the consolation you were given as it was offered. Though not the same at all, I have had those seasons as well. It is one of those kind of gatherings at the house that you described that came to my mind as I read your note. The Priests who had visited with us were making small talk as they left, and somehow we got to how their words and actions are followed and interpreted by so many- and yet each person interprets it differently. He specifically mentioned the homily, in particular, how he is always amazed at how 1,000 people hear the same words, but interprets it differently.

I thought maybe there might be more than one reason for what you see and hear- just a thought . .

I hope your story- and your friends’ - goes smoothly and with many blessings!


#3

I apologize to you for the slight you have suffered (not from me as a priest, but as a man). I do not think you did anything wrong, and, if you can, please put this incident in your past and continue with your life.

I have known many priests, some quite well. My take is that he became frightened, either because of a possible attraction to you, or because someone made a "catty" remark to him about seeing the two of you eating together. Priests are not taught social manners in the seminary, to my recollection, and he did not know how to handle this delicate situation....and mainly, as is obvious, he did not want to face you privately. So he adopted a "coward's" way out, if you want to call it that....although he may not have meant his rejection to be so severe.

Pray for him, please. He does not know how to let the matter go graceffully, and now, later, he is probably embarassed that he did not tell you privately.

I'm an old man, and I have seen many men clam up and walk away from a situation that caused much harm. I have done it myself, which is why I can speak from experience...embarassed, painful, stupid experience.

Please pray for him, and for yourself. You are still very precious in the eyes of G-d.

Peace be with you!


#4

Lilbit,

I am so sorry for your loss. May the peace and love of God be a comfort to you in your grief.

From an outsider's perspective, it sounds like one of two things happened here: Either A) Your priest friend started having doubts about the prudence of meeting with a recent widow in a setting she used to frequent with her late husband, but was embarrassed to tell you and handled the situation somewhat immaturely, or B) he forgot about your breakfast, didn't get your message, and his homily was completely unrelated to you.

Either way, you did nothing wrong. In general, I think it's wise for priests and unmarried women to avoid going out alone together, but it sounds like you had good itentions and even asked the priest for his opinion on the matter. So, no, I do not think you should leave your parish or even feel guilty about this. If it were me, I would be friendly to the priest when I saw him at Church, but I'd avoid him in social situations for the time being. Pray for him. Maybe he's struggling with boundary issues or is unsure how to minister to you in your grief. Maybe he has personal issues that are clouding his judgement or causing him anxiety. Take this time to mourn your husband and pray for him and don't worry about the priest.

God bless, and welcome to Catholic Answers.


#5

Hello Lilbit, your story made me think of an incident that happened many years ago to me . My husband had recently died and friends were visiting with me and my mother in law.
I was still fairly young(54) and someone asked me if I thought I’d ever remarry. I replied no,
however, I thought it would be great to find a friend of similar interests to share time and recreation with. My MIL, a wise old girl,smiled at all of us and said, it will never happen, he will end up wanting it to be more, she added it is called doing what comes naturally:)

I am 85 now and still quiet happily single. having never bothered to seek such a friendship.:slight_smile:
So perhaps your priest friend, was one of the very , very wise ones. So we must thank the wise, I always smile when I think of my wise old girl.:slight_smile: Peace, Carlan


#6

Since it was obvious to you that he was referring to your's two relationship it is a very strange way to let you know how he feels.Either he very shy or doesn't knnow how to address you personally or he is very clumsy when it comes it comes to expressing personal feelings face to face with women.Maybe also he's a bit over cautious and he'snot use to the situation which you put him in.Maybe he had 2nd thoughts after he agreed and didn't know what to say to you.However it is odd to make a sermon oout of it.In any case you shouldn't think about it anymore.you did nothing wrong and just try to understand that he's a little strange when handling some situations.Be happy and just forget this awkward situation.


#7

Lilbit, I am so sorry for your loss.

Sadly, we oftentimes don't know how socially interact with the newly widowed. We find it awkward: we're unsure how friendly overtures will be interpreted, and we worry about how the widow/er will react to even the most innocent extensions of friendship.

It's something we all of us need to work on as a society.

If I may, perhaps there is a bereavement support group you could join. If you're not comfortable joining the one at your parish, for the reasons you outlined in your post, you may check with local hospitals or another parish. I think the people who can best relate to what's happening to you are others who are coping with the death of a spouse.

I'll say a prayer for you. God bless.


#8

I am so glad to read all the responses. Thank you so much!

In response to JamestheOlder....since you are a priest is it possible that the Parish Priest read his email and misinterpreted it. I don't think he did the homily on his own. I think that he was asked to do so.

In response to Nodito.... His homily was directed to me. He avoided looking my direction.

If he was starting to feel some emotion for me although I am 10 yrs his senior, I still would have liked for him to tell me directly rather than doing it cowardly in the pulprit. I would have backed up and we could still have remained friends but not on a 1 to 1 basis.


#9

Karow,

I have joined a breavement support group which is outside the church which I look forward to attend once a week. Widows and widowers and staff from the healthcare just come, have lunch and just talk about anything. It helps to talk about things that relates to losing a spouse.


#10

[quote="lilbit, post:1, topic:247836"]
.He has not been doing the Mass as often as he used to so some parishioners are wondering what's going on.

[/quote]

I am very sorry for your loss and I am happy you have found a support group that helps. But the line above really stuck out to me. There is such a shortage of priest, I seriously doubt the only reason he is no longer doing mass is because of you. It honestly sounds like he has something else going on.

I had a very good friend who was a priest (and 43 years my senior) and I can tell you from experience, a priest NEVER confides in his parishioners. It goes against the 'etiquette' he can not seek help from the one he gives absolution to. It is like going to the doctor and the doctor asks you for medical advice. That is why you don't know what is really going on. He CAN'T tell you about his personal problems.

Also, on a side note, My friend that was a priest died less than 2 weeks ago. So I know what it is to loose a good priest friend and yes, they do make good friends. I feel you pain

CM


#11

[quote="lilbit, post:9, topic:247836"]
Karow,

I have joined a breavement support group which is outside the church which I look forward to attend once a week. Widows and widowers and staff from the healthcare just come, have lunch and just talk about anything. It helps to talk about things that relates to losing a spouse.

[/quote]

Brilliant. When my grandmother passed my grandpa found tremendous comfort in the support group he attended for months and months.


#12

Hi cmscms,

First of all, I am sorry for your loss of a good friend too!

I seriously believe that he is no longer doing Mass that often because the Parish priest or the diocese do not want any contact from me. I really think that a transfer to another parish for him is on his way. I just hate to hear comments from other parishioners wondering what happened! I still would cherish the friendship that we once had but follow the advice of moving on since life goes on.I would definitely pray for him.

I am at a dilemna whether to tell my children but I don't know what to say when they asked what happened. I'm sure that at the next gathering my family and friends from the parish would wonder what's going on since he will no longer be present


#13

[quote="lilbit, post:12, topic:247836"]

I am at a dilemna whether to tell my children but I don't know what to say when they asked what happened. I'm sure that at the next gathering my family and friends from the parish would wonder what's going on since he will no longer be present

[/quote]

Why would you need to tell your children, if they wonder why he isn't not at your next gathering.simply tell them the truth , that you have not had an opportunity to speak with him of late.As time goes by , this will fade. lift any lingering hurt up to Jesus for healing.
God bless you Lilbit and your children, Peace , Carlan


#14

Thank you for posting this. I wasn’t aware of this “stiquette” among Priests. My parish priest is currently fighting throat cancer and as a cancer survivor myself, I have been trying to help him. He is barely responsive. This has helped me understand a bit more…


#15

Dear lilbit,

I did not want to mislead you…I am not a priest, but a man of some experience in witnessing these type of matters. I do have many good friends who are priests, and, while they do not always confide in me, I see the situations which present themselves to these men of G-d, and I marvel at their steadfast effort at celibacy, not to mention chastity.

Misinterpretation of your email is always a possibility, but I think he may feel uncomfortable with his thoughts regarding you…nothing to do with you, but everything to do with his own feeling of insecurity.

As one of the other posters pointed out, the homily he gave may not have been directed to you at all…it may have been presented for some other reason, maybe where people had stayed too long with a relative.

Please excuse my clumsiness in wording. Please pray for me, as well as for your priest.

G-d bless you!

jim


#16

Personally I don't blame the Priest. Maybe he didn't handle it as well as he could have but maybe like an earlier poster suggested he has issues he's going through that he can't tell you about. Priests are people too with feelings and they also have a hard time because of their special calling and with all the scandal and as ready as people are to throw out accusations I can't blame the guy for taking the safe road. My dad once told me about how all the women in the parish I grew up in were always wanting to hug the priests especially the cute one and how this caused a problem with one priest who was a friend of the family. He thought it was wrong for these women to be doing this as some sort of distance should be kept for the priests own good. Now my dad is old school and that's how I was raised. I'd never expect a priest to take a meal alone with me. If other are included then it's ok but it's just not good to put these guys to temptation weather we as women realize it as such or not. It's just common sense. :cool:


#17

[quote="lilbit, post:1, topic:247836"]
I am new at this so I am not sure where I should be posting this. Anyway,I have been married for over 40 yrs & had just lost my husband a few months ago. I have had a difficult time getting back to society with my new status 'single'. The Catholic priest who performed my husband's memorial mass & inurnment became a family friend. He had been at the house with other guests for gathering on a few occasions. He mingled with everyone & had a good time. My children & friends will now be wondering when he is not present at any gathering from now on. My husband & I used to eat breakfast at a restaurant once a week so there was a time when I wanted to eat out. My female friends do not get up early & I have a hard time eating by myself so I figured that asking the priest would be harmless. The priest agreed and while we were eating I asked him if it would be appropriate to asked him for breakfast every now & then since I don't want him to get in trouble. He said that he eats with other parishioners so it should not be any problem. After a month or so thru an email, I asked him again to have breakfast at a restaurant that I have been wanting to try & he replied back with a date. On that day I waited outside the restaurant for about 15 mins & I figured that he forgot about it and called him up. There was no answer so I left a message asking him to call me back. I never heard from him but the next day his homily was on 'overextending hospitality' of which has to end for whatever reason. I was so shocked.What have I done to deserve this? Why did he not just talk to me directly instead of doing it in the pulprit? As God is my witness, I have no intention of having any kind of relationship with him or any other men other than friendship! I know that his passion is his priesthood! I feel so sad & betrayed that it had to end this way. I am still hoping & praying that eventually I would hear from him & find out the truth. He was a good friend helping me during this difficult time with his spiritual support.He has not been doing the Mass as often as he used to so some parishioners are wondering what's going on. I would hate to see him get transferred to another diocese because he really likes where he's at right now but I think this is already being worked out. I am now back to being more withdrawn from friends than ever more. Even going to church is getting difficult. It is so hard when parishioners are talking about him. I would be at church & just burst out crying. I have been going to this parish for over 30 years & I would hate to go to a different one now. Also, my conscience is clear & if I move that would just confirm that I am guilty. If he reads this, I wish him well!

[/quote]

I know that you did not mean anything by seeing him one on one, but the appearance may not be seemly for a priest. Having him to the house with other people present is one thing. Going out for a meal with other people present - no problem. Dining with him repeatedly alone - doesn't seem a good idea. Whether or not you meant anything, whether or not he was tempted in some way, is not really relevant. If others see you one on one, tongues may begin to wag. They shouldn't gossip but people do.

From the tone of your OP, you really might have been counting on his company a little too much. It's time to open up and not go back in a shell. You need other people who can relate to your situation, other support groups, new friends. Perhaps your priest recognized that as well. Perhaps there has been a problem in the diocese before. But whatever the reason, don't blame yourself for his transfer. You have no idea why he may be moving on. IF he even is...you don't seem to have any facts to go by at this point. I think you are taking this whole thing a lot too personally. Just start finding other interest groups.

I am sorry for the loss of your husband, it must be hard after over 40 years!


#18

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