That a priest isn’t married, nor will he have a family of his own. No wife, no children. His family is his parishioners. He is a spiritual father in faith to the community he serves. His future is in celebrating the Eucharist at mass every day, listening to confessions, anointing the sick, serving those who come to him for help. A priest may serve a parish only for a minimum of five to seven years. After that he may be transferred to another parish or assigned a different role in the Church. He relies on his team of volunteers, staff and the lay faithful. Don’t expect him to be there all the time for you.
When you give money to the Church, you may be surprised to know that the money isn’t for him because no priest earns a fixed salary. They receive a stipend to meet their basic expenses of food, clothing and travel. They save every penny to go for a vacation and much of the money is gifted by friends, relatives and well wishers as they don’t get paid leave like the rest of us who work. While we work for a fixed amounts of hours with two days off a week, priests are expected to be on stand by 24/7. So don’t be angry if they don’t respond to you when you need them. They are humans as well with the same frailty as us.
If you hear anyone speaking badly about a particular priest, please correct that person and don’t engage in idle gossip without knowing the facts. Remember that they are alone and at times would need company. Pay attention to their emotional, physical and mental needs. Accompany them if needed or offer a helping hand or even a lift. It’s not easy to go out alone at 2 or 3 in the morning especially in dangerous neighbourhood for counselling or even anointing someone on their death bed. If someone comes to them at such an hour for help, they have to get up from their deep sleep and still be expected to celebrate Mass in the morning. Who is there for them when they are ill or have emergencies in the middle of the night? Yet they are required to perform their duties because if not them, who?
Remember their birthdays, ordination anniversaries and important events in their lives. Celebrate with them, cry with them. Offer a shoulder to lean on. If they fall, don’t judge or criticize. Lift them up and help them on their journey in life. Don’t be offended if they don’t live up to your expectations. No priest is perfect.
So, take care of your priests, remember the ones who baptized, confirmed, married and anointed you. The ones who offer masses for your intentions and pray for you.
May God bless our priests in Jesus name, our eternal High Priest. Amen!