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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
May 2, 2010

A Modern Day Priest
                           
    As the centuries have past the fundamental nature of the priesthood has remained the same.  The priest is ordained to teach, preach and sanctify.  He does this through his homilies, teaching various classes to children, teens and adults, and lastly he sanctifies through the administration of the sacraments.  These responsibilities have never changed.  Years ago a priest who had a small rural parish had the time to do all of these things with relatively some ease.  When the number of parishioners is limited the work is also limited.  The priest was able to develop a working relationship with each family and he knew their needs both spiritually and other wise.  There was always work but the stress was limited.

    A priest serving in an urban setting usually had more parishioners but he also had more help.  A pastor often had two or more associates who in turn took on a share of the responsibility.  Yes there were more Sunday Masses but no priest had more than one or two Masses.  The weekday Masses were also shared.  No one priest had to hear every confession or be responsible for every funeral, Baptism, wedding or every weekly homily. 

    The priest of the 21st Century must be prepared to face challenges that far exceed those of the past.  The first challenge is the fact that the population has increased tremendously over the past decades.  In comparison, the number of priests has decreased.  Whether a priest is serving in a rural or urban setting there are no associates unless the parish is extremely large and even then there is no more than one to help out. The larger population means more baptisms, and definitely more funerals.  There are some priests that have an average of four or five funerals each week. A good priest takes this responsibility seriously.  This in itself is exhausting.

    A second challenge is the demand placed on priests to be a visible presence to various parish or community gatherings.  This is nothing new but the presence of a priest some thirty years ago was not as demanding.  The one who had nothing special to do on that day was usually the one asked to attend the function. 

    A third challenge is the more complex administration of the parish.  Due to the lack of priest and the growth of parishes, the number of staff has increased and now every priest is expected to be “the boss” of the “company” over and above his spiritual duties.  The two types of responsibilities often contradict themselves in nature thus throwing the priest in a space not bargained for at ordination. 

    Lastly the modern day priest must struggle with the present situation of the church at large.  This involves many aspects of life not the least of which is the psychologically draining demand to rise over and above the diminishing lack of moral authority of the hierarchy and the ever decreasing degree of faith among the faithful. 

    Today’s priest needs a deep spiritual life to survive but one needs time to develop such a life.  Let us pray for our priests            Lorette P. Nault