We had a wonderful pastor at our parish who served there for ten years until he was transferred a few years ago. Fr. Gary was one of those priests who was so involved in his parishioners’ lives. He would pop by the house randomly with treats for the kids, or go golfing with my husband, and he even took our family to Six Flags two or three summers in a row. When he heard our confessions, we knew that he knew us and cared about us. He loved Mass and the Eucharist and preached it regularly, but outside of Mass he was a fun-loving, social, “regular” guy. The kids flocked to him. He was an integral part of our (almost) daily lives. We miss him terribly.
But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized just how much. One of our recently ordained priest friends (who was a student when we were campus ministers 15 years ago) came to our area for retreat/vacation, and he came over yesterday to celebrate Mass at our home. What made it even more special was that it was the Feast of the Chair of Peter, our son Peter’s feast day. It was an awesome way to honor the day, and of course was followed by some tasty treats and fellowship.
After Mass, when we were in the kitchen enjoying each other’s company, I glanced over at the stairs, where Fr. Dave was sitting surrounded by every one of our children, from the teenagers down to the baby. I wished I had my camera to capture the moment, but I somehow misplaced it last week. (A side effect of having so many children seems to be loss of brain cells! 🙂 just kidding!) Anyway, it dawned on me in that moment just how precious a time it was. It is so valuable to have our kids regularly exposed to priests and nuns, and not just in the church setting. Our day was the perfect mix of the sacred and the more “worldly.” Just the evening before, Fr. Dave had come for dinner and stayed to play football on the XBox with the kids and hubby. And then last night he went to the movies with hubby and the older kids. What a wonderful way for our kids to see that a priest is dedicated to serving the Lord in such a special way, and yet, he is also just a normal person like us.
Fr. Dave seems to be enjoying the time just as much, and I think is a little concerned with wearing out his welcome. But the truth of the matter is, we want to max out our time with him while he’s here, because we are currently not blessed with the opportunity to do that with our parish priests. But yesterday made me realize one thing — we need to make more of an effort to get to know our priests, even if they may not be naturally inclined to be really involved with parishioners. And honestly, I think it is just as important for them as it is for us. Stay tuned for a guest post from a priest about this matter.
And in the meantime, please join me in thanking God for our faithful priests and praying for His blessing upon them.
P.S. Please ignore the ads that pop up below. I have no control over them, (or at least can’t figure out how to keep them from coming up) and sometimes they are in poor taste. Sorry about that.