The pastor of our parish goes to the parish school often, where my son attends and my wife teaches. The past few months Fr. “smith” has been short with parents, teachers, and students for no apparent reason. He isn’t doing anything especially wrong, he just isn’t handling interpersonal relationships in the school very well. Aside from praying for him, I am not sure what to do. I don’t feel like I can confront him, and this isn’t a big enough issue to go to the bishop over. Any advice.
How is he when he is not at the school is he better as a pastor? He maybe just having a stressful time. You said it’s only been in the last couple months. Pray about it, ask your
wife to pray about. Maybe wait and see how he does at the start of the next school year. If you still feel he is struggling write to the bishop.
God bless you Brother.
Custódi nos, Dómine, ut pupíllam óculi.
Sub umbra alárum tuárum prótege nos.
Is there someone who is close to the pastor… a secretary or friend Priest of his… who someone could speak to regarding having a quiet word in the Pastors ear about how people are feeling? Certain people have the gift of speaking to a person without it being accusatory or admonishing.
My daughter had a similar situation at work where an older cranky supervisor seemed to be annoyed and short with her without reason. In the end, my daughter spoke to another super about it and that super (who is liked by everyone) spoke quietly to crankypants who seemed to be unaware of her effect on my daughter. The nice super said to my daughter not to speak to any other staff about it because it is a workplace that prides itself on being free from gossip and b-tching.
For the Pastors sake and the Christian atmosphere of the school, it would be good to have it addressed as soon as possible.
I guess someone could ask fr " Francis " to speak to Fr. Smith. Fr Francis is in residence at our parish, and good friends I presume with Fr Smith. I am not sure who would be the right person to talk to Fr. Francis about Fr. Smith though.
Keep praying for him.
And when that seems to fail, pray some more.
He may have private matters going on that no one knows about. I would try to apply the 5th Spiritual Act of Mercy - forgive offenses. He needs your mercy. I personally wouldn’t confront him unless he crossed a major line.
You don’t need to “confront him” so to speak, but you SHOULD “approach” him and gently let him know that this has been noticed and ask if everything is okay, if he would like prayer for something in particular, etc…
My wife and I, kids in tow, were verbally assaulted once by a Priest, after I approached him to ask about a cruel look he gave my wife and daughter. A few months went by, but I kept at it, working toward reconciliation. Finally we were able to meet and discuss things and I found that he had been battling some deep feelings that even he was unaware of at the time. Approaching him and demanding [gently] that justice be upheld, we were able to communicate and heal and reconcile…and become true friends in the end. Priests are men, just like you and me, and they need prayer and someone to talk to…just like you and me.
While I certainly agree with forgiving offences, I don’t agree with allowing the behavior to continue unchecked as there’s a very real possibility of the priest really crossing that major line and hurting someone. It could possibly drive someone out of the Church entirely.
I agree with other posters about having someone close to him speak with him. If that’s not possible then you really may have to speak with him yourself. The Holy Spirit may be putting this on your heart for a reason. I recommend a non-accusatory tone and that you’re concerned about him and praying for him.
May God bless you and give you peace.
Since his attitude may be affecting the way other people look upon the Catholic Church, I would make sure to put a stop to it one way or another. Only you know the best way.
While I think we should all be kind and forgiving, I’ll give you an example of something that happened to me: I went to Confession about three years ago and the priest was very rude to me. I’m not confrontational and didn’t say anything that would make him react that way, so I told him that I knew he was acting in Persona Christi, but that I would like him to permit me to leave and go to confession with another priest. He did and I went to a priest in another parish, without naming names, and told him about the confession. The other priest kind of laughed it off – he’s a very good man. However, I wrote Galveston/Houston Cardinal Di Nardo and told him about my experience, and I copied the priest. Then I quit going to Mass at that parish.
I eventually went back and walked up to the priest and said ‘hello’ after Mass. He was very nice, and I think we both left it behind us. Although the priest was still kind of grouchy last time I saw him and I think it’s just his personality, I think he needs to know that there are boundaries to his behavior, in the confessional and out.
Just a thought. I’m a Catholic who believes in respecting our shepherds and religious, but I also think it’s up to us to respectfully keep things in check if we experience something we don’t like.
Hmm, when a priest is not polite, what to do… I have let my guard down with priests before, thinking i could trust them, ask for help, and unfortunately for me i just happened to ask at the absolutely wrong times in my life for help with numerous things… an have in reply been given at one point a very rude response on occasion, and i was shocked each time it happened. The first thing i had to realize is priests are still people, they are not perfect, and they have the same problems if not more than me… I try to pray for them, i try to let it go, but the scars are still there, it is hard to forget, and it has made me gun shy to just be so willing to just trust any priest. It is like trusting a friend, they are our friends, they are good people, but one may not always want to or may know better than to tell certain friends certain things about their life, same goes for priests i guess.
And it did for a time make me wonder why i am still with the Church, i am realizing i am there not because of any " popular priest " nor because of any bishop but because of Christ… I go to mass , church, adoration, because that is the easiest place for me to encounter Christ.
My question would be: Is this related to some personal difficulty he is having or is it possibly a medical problem?
Since you don’t work there, have you witnessed any of these incidents? It wouldn’t be professional of you to complain on your wife’s behalf, and it would be better for you who have seen nothing to defer to those who were direct witnesses when it comes to asking him about it.
It is always a concern when someone’s behavior changes from polite to terse. It may be nothing, but were I your wife, I’d ask my principal to make inquiries about whether someone at the school is offending Father without intention or if something else has changed which is bothering him. If not, why the change? Is he OK?
It would be loyal for someone to let him know that the change in his demeanor has been noticed, since he may think he is hiding some inner turmoil that is showing in a big way. If he has been offended in some way, it would also be a good if someone gave him an opening to express his displeasure. He may be unconsciously waiting for someone to ask him what is up. He may not be saying something about it because he doesn’t want to allow himself to take offense over something that bothers him all the same.
I am guessing that he does not realize he is upsetting your wife or anyone else at the school. Let your wife handle this with her colleagues, though.
the simple fact may be that the priest at the moment doesn’t like many of the people he is encountering for whatever reason, and as a fact of life, they will just have to put up with it, if he’s doing his job for them. Have they considered this possibility? Sorry if this is not charitable, but it is his job to be a priest; it is not his job to like them. Maybe he objects to their gossiping and nitpicking; maybe he thinks they give lip-service only to God and the church and do not seriously try to change their behaviour. Everyone has their cross to bear, and maybe these people are this priest’s cross. Just a possibility.
wonder if he may have a prblm with alcohol…difficult to imagine praying the office…daily…spending some time lectio devina …and still be difficult …have someone tactfully approach him and inquire…
I would give Father some space and pray for him. You don’t need to know details that may turn gossipy by asking someone else at school. He may have some pressing matters.
If you must ask someone-it should be directed at Father, not a third party.
Decades ago, we had a Priest just like this, a number of people left ,
It took a while, but he resigned and left for interstate, there isn’t much you can.,
Unless someone talks to him,
It should be handled discretely by one of the persons involved, though. This is a problem in the workplace, and so it would not do for a spouse to step in to make inquiries on behalf of one of the teachers. If a teacher has a problem at school, she ought to handle it herself. The only time a spouse might step in is if the teacher is herself the problem–that is, if something traumatic happens to her outside of school that might affect her work, the spouse can let the principal know about it, rather than forcing the teacher to relate the news of the trauma herself.
If it is a pattern of behavior, it would be good for the principal to talk to the pastor about it. Since past incidents were allowed to pass, though, I’d wait until another came along to raise the question.
If the principal is asked and says the matter has been brought up and that is all he/she can say, then there is not much to be done except to pray for the pastor, the parish, and the school.
If the principal is asked, acknowledges a problem, but elects not to do anything, then it is time to consider how to quietly make an immediate inquiry when/if it happens again. It is not appropriate to jump in and act on behalf of anyone else.
If it doesn’t happen again so that there is no opportunity to bring it up, give thanks and let it go.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a person directly involved, or the parent if the person directly involved was a minor, to schedule a meeting with the pastor to discuss the situation. Beginning these conversations with, “Father, I know you have a lot on your plate and I’m sure you’re not aware of this, but when X, Y, Z occurred, I was upset and bothered by it. I’d really appreciate it if you could be a little softer with me.”
I also think that when someone goes too far it’s fair to address it in the moment. I realize those things catch people off guard, but having a planned response or two at the ready could help. It might just be a non-verbal gaze and a “Father?” Sometimes humor would lighten the situation. Depends on the person, of course. I’ve said to a supervisor, “It’s obvious you’re upset. If it’s something I did, tell me, and let’s address it. If it’s not, please direct that to the proper recipient.” She stopped in the moment. Apologized later.