Go Go Catholic Priesthood, the Mighty Roman Catholic Priesthood!
Today I think I’ll talk about some of the excellent Priests I have had the pleasure of knowing throughout my life. They shall be given cool code names of course, so that none will grapple with Pride should they read this (which is unlikely at best), and so that their humble anonymity will remain intact.
I always hear horror stories about Priests from lax Catholics or people who have fallen away from the Church. I was even told once that a major factor in why a girl did note like the Church was that a Priest called her fat once. To be honest, though he was not behaving properly when he made the comment, he was speaking the truth. I found that situation both sad and humorous at the same time, given her strange reason for disliking the entirety of Us over one offense, and the audacity of the Priest’s statement. While I have known a handful of lazy so-so Men of the Cloth, and one or two very poor, even down right awful, men who bear that title, the number of excellent and stalwart men I have met and talked with over my brief span of mortal life has far outweighed any negative impression I might have had.
A short note on many things people do not understand about the Priesthood. For one, every Priest you will ever meet has at least a Master’s Degree worth of education in him, just by nature of how long Seminary lasts and the topics covered therein. This does not include the prior instruction he may have received as a layman at a secular University, nor the Doctorate level studies that many go on to obtain after they are Ordained. There are even branches of the non-Diocesan Priesthood that devote special attention to education, such as the Jesuit Order. Now that I’ve mentioned it, there are two kinds of Priest. Some belong to a religious Order and may or may not wind up attached to a Diocese/Parish as part of their job description, and they may rely not only on their own hierarchy, but that of the Diocesan Priesthood as well. Some are focused on prayer, others on scholastic endeavors, still others on charitable works. There are hundreds of Priestly Orders, all with unique perspectives on the Catholic Faith. Diocesan Priests are the ones you normally think of, and are the most common, for everywhere there is a Catholic Church, there they are. They are the neural network of the Church, linking together Parishes in a Diocese and Diocese to Archdiocese and so on, all the way up to the Holy Father in the Vatican. I have been lucky enough to know both varieties of Priest, and name them friend.
We’ll start first with the Diocesan fellows, the hundred thousands of “grunts” that serve us in every spiritual (and many physical ones as well) aspect of our lives. I will begin with Father Kinship, as he was one of my first contacts with the Priesthood, and is also a blood relative of mine, as his moniker suggests. Father Kinship is a lax, jovial man, quick to laughter and jesting, and his presence at our family table during the customary get-togethers is a boon to everyone in the room. He is rarely anywhere but the heart of a conversation, and each one of us looks forward to the appearance of his white collar, often suspended over a classy solid color sweater-vest, at the door. He is extremely knowledgeable about many subjects pertaining to his Vocation, and dispenses that knowledge with endearing kindness and benevolence. He has been Priest and Pastor at many places, most recently a Parish with an attached school. He runs his ship well and with dignity, making sure the Next Generation is well-schooled in their Faith and in every other subject besides. Yet, Father Kinship shows absolutely no sign that he recognizes how impressive or valuable he is. He is humble throughout, refusing the best seat in the house in favor of others, even when no elderly, afflicted, or ladies are present, in favor of our own comfort, despite the fact that all the work he does would warrant such a position by the standards of most.
Father Luigi is an equally humble man. He is my pastor, though I rarely see him during the school year, as there is Mass with my University’s Newman Club (REPRESENT!!!) at that time. He is normal in temperament, if a bit on the kind and fatherly side, which tends to be the case for most Priests anyway. He dutifully runs his Parish and the attached school, handling delinquents, and even a collection basket thief, with strong but merciful hands. Having received Confession from him once or twice, I can vouch for this unabashedly and with great assurance. A man from a traditional Italian family, his love for his mother is great, and his love for his Parish, also very great. He never ceases to tell us how much he cares for his flock, for to him, we are his enlarged and beautiful family. I cannot recall a Mass where he has not referred to us as “The Miracle on (Street Name Deleted For Privacy)”. And should he sense that he has done something amiss, he immediately and with honest and true gusto, gives us an apology and asks obediently for our forgiveness. Of course, he has never done anything worthy of scorn from what I have seen, but, if he feels he has, may God bless him for his sincere heart.
Father Tough-as-nails was the Pastor before Father Luigi, from when I attended the attached Parochial School as a budding teenage boy. As his nickname might suggest, he was certainly hardcore. While he would speak powerfully against wrongdoing and problems within the community, he gave us a glimpse at a courage and determination sorely lacking in our society. There were some who disliked him for his fire, though he went easy on the brimstone by any definition of the phrase. I never understood this. It takes all sorts of men to make the Church run, and being of a somewhat lively and oft aggressive man myself, I could see where he was coming from. True, there were times when he may have let his anger get the better of him, but, he saw to it that he did better for each slip. He was strict, which was annoying at that age for all of us, but he helped me become a better Catholic and taught me more than any other clergy had, barring Father Kinship, until my High School years. He deeply loved his flock, especially us children. He could be found, during playground hours, roaming around and conversing with us at whim, while making sure nobody pulled any funny stuff, as was our wont. My brother was especially fond of him, having spent far longer under his care than my one year before High School. He often came to Religion Class and taught us about the proper way to read the Old Testament, or the importance of Sacraments, or told us moralistic, yet fun, anecdotes. I have not seen him for some time, and wish that I could find his whereabouts, so that I might thank him for what he did.
As I am running short on time, I will have to make this a two-parter! Expect more soon, for I still have to relate to you the examples of Brother Canadian, The Most Interesting Priest in the World, Father Hippie, Father Aragorn, Father Jester, and Father Humble.