Pope Benedict XVI has declared 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010 as the Year for Priests. The theme for the Year for Priests is “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests.” Its purpose is to encourage what the Pope calls “the yearning for spiritual perfection” in priests.
But the Year for Priests also gives lay people a special opportunity to
learn more about the priesthood, to recognize and honour priests, to
encourage priestly vocations.
Like our Holy Father, will you also give priests a special importance
and say how much you love them, how much you want to help them to live
their vocation and mission with joy and fervour?
Know that the priestly ministry is essentially a shared ministry,
exercised in genuine friendship between priests and people. Together,
and only together, can we be living witnesses and ministers of the Good
News of God’s reconciling love.
It is not an exhaustive list but here are some ways you can adopt to assist your priests in loving and supporting them:
Give your priests a spiritual bouquet by praying for them
Encourage others to do the same. Let your priests know that you are
praying for them. They will appreciate your spiritual support. During
difficult moments, they will know that your prayers are helping to
sustain them. You are invited to pledge prayers, rosaries, chaplets,
holy hours (Eucharistic Adoration), fasts, Masses and other sacrifices
for your priests that they may be protected in body and spirit, and may
grow in holiness and in the fruitfulness of their ministry.
Be a good Catholic in the family of God
Love God and love one another. Attend Mass regularly and especially
every weekend and get involved in your parish. Use your gifts and
talents. Volunteer to help with whatever needs to be done. Attend
parish events and support your parish financially. Above all, keep your
relationship with Jesus top priority. Priests come and go in every
parish. They will touch your lives in some ways, but your faith must
always be grounded in the Lord.
Accept your priests as unique gifts from the Lord
Manage your expectations. Sometimes people have unrealistic
expectations of what a priest “should be” or “should do.” They want the
priest to be present at every parish function, every community event,
and every time someone has a question, concern or special need. It is
important to remember that priests are people, too, with the same
normal human limitations. Just as you need a day off every week, so do
your priests. Priests have to take care of themselves too. Priests come
in all shapes and sizes, ages and personalities: mild-mannered,
quick-tempered, serious or witty. Each priest will minister in his own
way. Trust God to work through your priests to meet the needs of the
parish. Do let them know that you support them.
Have confidence in your priests and see the good in each of them
A lot of what you hear from the parish grapevine is either untrue or
is, at best, exaggerated. Most people really want their priests to
succeed in their ministries. But a few negative people can do a lot of
damage and injustice to the priests and also to the entire parish.
Often people make assumptions about something they hear a priest say or
see him do that have no basis in reality. You may never have all the
facts. A priest will not tell you everything as he is bound by
confidentiality. A priest might have had a long tiring day with a dying
parishioner. He might be feeling unwell himself, and so it is best to
give the priest the benefit of the doubt. Do not be quick to jump to
conclusions. Be charitable to your priests even in your thoughts.
Set good examples for your children
How you talk about your priests, especially in front of your children, is important. Gently confront parishioners who spread rumours, and make it clear that criticizing a priest behind his back never solves a problem. If there is a legitimate complaint, offer to go with them to talk to the priest. When difficulties arise, do your priest the courtesy of making an appointment so you can talk about it with him in person. Do not try to engage in a serious discussion after Mass or when many others are around the priest. You may convey your feelings but always speak with respect. Pray that the Lord will guide you.
Affirm your priests by showing your appreciation
Thank your priests for they have given their lives to the Lord and to you. Recognize how much work goes into making a parish run well. Tell your priests when you like something that they did or the way in which they handled a situation. You could send them some encouraging words. Make an effort to remember their birthdays or ordination anniversaries or other special occasions by praying for them specially on these occasions. It is not necessary to send gifts just the recognition of the event is an expression of appreciation and encouragement. If you wish to show your appreciation you may ask your priests how you can make their lives a little easier.
Finally, remember that Jesus makes Himself present to us in a special way through His priests so whatever you do for your priests, you also do for the Lord, and whatever you do for the Lord helps to build the Kingdom of God right here in Singapore. May God bless you!
Prayer for Priests
Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd of our souls, we thank You for instituting the Priesthood. Bless all our priests as they minister to us. We are grateful for the many gifts You have given them.
Our priests draw us together in worship, visit us in our homes, comfort us in sickness and show us compassion. Our priests bless our marriage, baptise our children, confirm us in our calling, and support us in bereavement.
They also help us to grow in faith, encourage us to take the initiative, and most of all, they bring Your presence among us.
We ask You to bless our priests and to guide them in their calling. May they imitate You in their service and always respond with generosity and a joyful heart. Amen
Nihil Obstat: Rev. Fr. William Goh, STL, Censor Librorum Imprimatur: Most Rev. Nicholas Chia, D.D., Archbishop of Singapore.
Feast of St. John Vianney, 4 August 2009
The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur agree with the content, opinions or statements expressed.
Produced by: Priestly Life Commission Archdiocese of Singapore