Thank You for All Priests
Last Friday when I went to see Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. give his talk,( 2009 Speaker Series at Christ the King Parish), there was a question and answer session afterwards. One of the comments made at that time bothered me. The comments more than bothered the pastor of St. Anthony's. He said he almost wanted to go over and fight.
What she said was callous. I'm sure she wasn't thinking. In praising the Dominicans, of whom, Father Timothy belonged, she critized all parish priests. She said she lives in San Francisco, California, and travels about 70 miles to go to church. She does this every Sunday because the Dominicans there preach so wonderfully and seem to energize the community, unlike the parish priests.
As a Lay Dominican, I thank the young lady and appreciate her praise of my brothers, the friars. However, as a Lay Dominican, I also feel that I must speak up ( a la St. Catherine of Siena)and defend the parish priest.
It is not difficult to craft homilies to a particular people, if your parish belongs to the academic community. Many people go to the priory, or monastery, etc., to go to Mass. The people who attend these Masses and travel to these locations are often all of the same mind set. A preacher can really hone in on their particular needs.
As Father Costello of St. Anthony's was telling me, it is hard to hit everyone in his congregation. His parish consists of the world. Tourists from God knows where, locals, old, young, Cape Verdeans, rich, poor...you get the idea, make up his parish. And every one of them wants excellent preaching, every week. They want the perfect prayer for every occasion. They expect the priest to be present when they need him. They want the priest to like what they like, and not like what they don't.
The hardest expectation to live up to is that people want them to be human and be a "party animal" when occasions call for that; yet, people want priests to be just like Jesus.
Instead of critizing the parish priest, people should offer to help, try to be non-judgemental, and assist the priest. If a priest moves you to prayer because he celebrates Mass so wonderfully. Thank God for the blessing of this priest. If you think the priest is boring, then pray for him. Ask St. John Vianney to intercede for blessings to fall on the priest. All priests need us to pray for them.
If you have a chance to see the last speaker in the 2009 Summer Speaker Series, I recommend that you do. Many people attended Father Timothy's and the audience was very welcoming to everyone. The cost is free. What more do you want?
The 2009 Summer Speaker Series is held by the parishes of Christ the King, St. Anthony's, and Our Lady of Victory. The above picture is Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., with Msgr. Daniel Hoye,the pastor of Christ the King, in the background.