On Sunday, we headed to hubby’s home town for Sunday mass and brunch with his folks. The parish was in the early weeks of welcoming a new priest. The new pastor had an energetic, out-going personality. He welcomed all the children as they streamed to the front for the children’s liturgy blessing. One wee one began telling him how her father was sick once and had to go to the hospital. Concerned, the priest asked if her father was in church today. No, she replied. He was out golfing! As the community roared with laughter, Father promised that we would pray for him.
It’s tough being a priest, especially in the early days of a new parish appointment. A friendly personality helps, but it is not enough to gain the respect and trust of a community. We have seen many priests come and go. Some made us happy in their coming, and some in their going!
In the past, we saw too many new priests who were determined to put their own stamp on the parish, marking it as their own territory. The attitude was, this is my church now! Renovations were ordered for rectories and worship spaces. New sounds systems were brought in, because the previous one was never good enough. A parish’s traditions were turned upside down for the benefit of change for change’s sake.
At the end of mass on Sunday, we were asked to sit down before the closing hymn. Groan…another speech, probably asking for volunteers or money. Father began talking about the Sunday mass schedule, and how some requests had been made for a Sunday evening mass to accommodate workers. He offered several options for folks to consider, and then asked for input. Anyone who had a preference or suggestion was to call the parish office and let their opinion be known.
His request received an energetic and appreciative response. As we left the church, we could hear folks talking about how wonderful it was that the parish was being consulted.
If only true consultation with a parish community, as a community, could be the norm and not the exception.