How do you show someone you appreciate them both as a person and for the role they fill in the community? Priests do so much for us as faithful Catholics and have what might be the hardest job in the world, and the most fulfilling, bringing the sacraments to the faithful members of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Working with parish secretaries and priests, Today’s Catholic compiled some suggestions for ways that parishioners can express their gratitude for and support these faithful men who said yes to God’s calling in their lives.
— The greatest thing we can do for our priests is to pray for them – daily, specifically, fervently.
— Ask your priest directly what you can do for him. Every parish has unique needs, be it financial, volunteering, specific items, etc. Every priest is different, so not all of them will need or want the same things.
— Be aware of dietary needs or restrictions before giving gifts of treats, particularly at Christmastime. The priest may be diabetic or focused on his personal health, and is likely to receive an abundance of sweets, which are sometimes passed on to parish staff members who also may need to avoid these foods.
— In lieu of gifts at holidays or anniversaries, ask him if there is a charity organization that he would rather have you give money to in his name.
— Women can join a Seven Sisters Apostolate, a women’s group that covers a parish priest in prayer seven days a week, or start one if your parish doesn’t already have one (or two, depending on how many priests you have).
— Send him a Christmas card with an end-of-year donation rather than using the collection envelope. This can be very meaningful and shows that you took extra time to show your appreciation.
— Compliment him on a specific thing he’s done in the parish or an aspect of his homily that touched you. Priests need to know that they are making an impact with their people.
— Black socks.
— Be respectful of his time. After Mass is not the best time to begin a lengthy conversation or bring up something that is important to you. He may have other people waiting to greet him and/or your important issue could get lost in the things going on around him. Instead, make an appointment to sit down and speak with him one-on-one.
— Ask him if he has any prayer intentions that you can add to your prayer list. He might be dealing with something that needs extra prayers. Let him know that you’re praying for him.
— Follow through with your promises. If you said you would be willing to do something around the parish, it is important to complete the task.
— Let a priest know if you are in the hospital and/or preparing for surgery. By law, hospitals can’t give out this information, so please have someone inform them so that they may pray for you.
— Keep a smile on your face and a positive attitude. As one secretary said, some days are better than others and your priest needs to have your support on both kinds of days.
— Get into the trenches to help where and when you can, especially by inviting people to Church through the RCIA process.
— Send written notes of appreciation. This is something that a priest can look back on through the years and remember fondly.
— Don’t leave things in church without asking permission, even prayer cards or other religious articles. Take ownership of the church space as if it were your home.
— Refrain from comparing him to the previous priest or the priest before that one. Everyone has a different focus and a different way of doing things and he is trying to manage things the best way he can.
— Keep private matters confidential. Priests deal with sensitive matters, and it is important to respect people’s privacy, including your parish priest.
— If you know his private phone number, do not share it with anyone. If someone needs to reach him, direct them to the parish office.
— When in doubt, call the parish office. The secretary or the priest himself would be more than happy to answer your questions about how you can best show him your appreciation and support.
— Ensure that your children receive their sacraments.
— Bring them to Mass every week and form them in the Faith, helping your spiritual father lead others to our Heavenly Father.
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