We often thank military people who die in service, police who die in service, firefighters who die in service, many, many people who die serving others. But do we ever think to thank priests, nuns, and other consecrated religious for their service? If not, why not? After all, they must die to themselves, and to the world in order to serve the needs of the Church.
This is different in the Protestant world, at least, many parts of it. If you’ve seen the recent movie “Heaven is for real”, you know that small-town pastors wear many hats, including one that provides for their family. So, many times, a Protestant Pastor has other endeavors to deal with-family, finance, and life, in general. On the other hand, with a Catholic priest, he is taken care of, modestly, from head to toe. Yes, a diocesan priest has expenses-insurance, food, auto, and retirement. That’s what his salary is for. And I’ve never seen a religious want for anything (though I’m sure they may in some places). But the religious (speaking of Catholic religious) are totally dead to the world.
So, we need to thank our priests for giving their lives-to Christ. How can we do that? The Archdiocese of St. Louis has a nice insight on this:
Pray a daily Rosary for your parish priest and encourage others to pray with you. Contact your priest and let him know that you are supporting him through prayer.
Live in Unity
Take an active role in your parish community. Attend Mass weekly and become a good steward by offering your gifts of time and talent. Attend parish sponsored events and/or support your parish financially.
Manage Your Expectations
Remember your pastor and parish priests are only human and while they would like to be present to support all parish happenings and family celebrations, this may be impossible. Be accepting of your priests. Recognize their individual gifts to the parish. Help your priests by informing them of illnesses and special needs within your community.
Come to the banquet of the Lord with a positive attitude and avoid negative talk that may only lead to misunderstandings. Be mindful of how you speak about your parish priest with others, especially around children. If you have a disagreement with your parish priest that cannot be resolved through prayer, honestly and respectfully discuss it with him in private.
Appreciate Your Priests
We all need positive encouragement and priests need affirmation too. Tell your priest when you enjoy a homily. Thank him for bringing Jesus to you. Drop him a note or card to thank him for his dedication to the Lord and the Catholic Church.
Encourage Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life
Help your priests by praying for an increase of vocations. Teach your children and grandchildren to be open to the Holy Spirit and invite young men and women to consider religious life as a vocation. Encourage and support Kenrick-Glennon Seminary by spiritually adopting a seminarian. Volunteer your time with the youth of your parish. Prayerfully support the programs offered by the Office of Vocations.