Overstretched Priests Are Worn Down!
As a parent of a priest, I have been very blessed to have an insight into the almost daily life of a priest. I have witnessed the frustrations of having to deal with crumbling infrastructure, lack of funding, lack of viable lay leadership, and a diminishing congregation.
To add to this, not only does crime take its toll in having the very limited resources plundered and priests even murdered for a few rands, but the community also very seldom stands up for the priest.
If the priest is weak, the community might take advantage and make huge demands. The homeless and destitute demand to be fed and looked after. The families of the sick and dying demand the priest to minister to them immediately. The community demands baptism when it suits them, many times without the required preparation. Likewise marriages.
Distances can be far. Many calls are at night. A priest’s safety is not even considered.
And, yes, many priests are lonely, and their only company maybe TV or even the bottle.
I believe there is a huge problem in recruiting new priests. I don’t think anything near enough is being done in parishes to encourage vocations to the priesthood.
I challenge the bishops to instruct all the priests in their dioceses to make it a norm to pray for vocations at every Mass and encourage, from the pulpit, at least once a month, young men to look at the priesthood as a vocation.
Let us not just sit on the sidelines and wait for some family to “donate” a child they don’t know what to do with because they have too many other children to feed. Let us not wait for a young man who cannot find employment, who sees the priesthood as an easy job where he will be housed, fed, given a car and a computer and access to a collection plate. Let us not wait for a young man who sees the training of a priest, at no cost to himself, as a means to move forward after he has gained a degree and then decides to pursue another career.
Let us — all of us parishioners — instead encourage young men to see the role of a priest as a fulfilling vocation that has rich rewards.
Let us make our Church a place where young people want to go. Let us show our youth that there is more to the Church than just Mass.
Let us encourage them to get involved in ministry and outreach programmes.
Let there be open days where the young can meet priests on an informal level and learn what it is all about to be a priest.