Archbishop talks about the impact of unfair criticism and lack of appreciation in the lives of priests

Archbishop Goh celebrates the Chrism Mass with priests of the archdiocese on Maundy Thursday morning. Photos: VITA IMAGES

During the annual Chrism Mass, Archbishop William Goh highlighted why priests sometimes lose their passion for their ministry, and what they can do to address this.

“When we were newly ordained,” said Archbishop Goh, “we were full of joy and excitement.”

However, over time this joy can slowly fade, “and that is very sad”, he told priests of the archdiocese, Religious and laypeople gathered at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St, on Maundy Thursday morning.

The first reason why priests lose their “passion and enthusiasm” is because “we take our vocation for granted”, he said in his homily.

“What is considered a privilege over time becomes a duty” and “routine sets in”, he told the crowd, which spilled out of the church and into the car park.

Secondly, it is due to the “demands of the ministry”.

“People have great expectations of priests,” said Archbishop Goh, adding that people do complain when these expectations are not met.

“And so priests are wounded in ministry, priests are disillusioned. When we are unappreciated, when we are wrongly criticised, when we are not affirmed, especially for the sacrifices you have made, after some time, you lose your passion,” said Archbishop Goh.

Priests are “human beings”, he stressed at one point in his homily. “Do not forget. We are not mini-gods.”

In order to rekindle their passion for their ministry, priests “need to go back to [their] first calling”, he said. “Let us remember that day when we responded to the Lord.” Archbishop stirring the chrism.

He urged priests to recall why they became priests in the first place – “because we fell in love with Jesus”.

The second reason is that “we fell in love with His mission”.

“We want to reach out to the poor … to be able to serve people, to bring them good news,” said Archbishop Goh.

In his closing remarks at the end of the Mass, the archbishop noted that priests are “not perfect” but “they are people with a good heart… and they sacrifice a lot”.

He urged the congregation to “forgive us for all the wrong things we have done, for all our failures, our shortcomings” and to “pray for us”.

The annual Chrism Mass, usually held on Maundy Thursday worldwide, signifies the unity of the priests with their bishop and is an expression of the fullness of the bishop’s priesthood.

The local celebration saw the clergy renewing their priestly vows.

Archbishop Goh also blessed the oil of the sick and the oil of the catechumens, as well as consecrated the chrism which will be used for baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders.

By Christopher Khoo
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