Hello dear readers! I apologize for my blog silence. I had an incredible summer, one of which was also very busy. I was so blessed by the people of Adams County, and I cannot even begin to unpack the many blessings I have from being with them. I got to learn so much about what a priest does this summer. I got to attend Catholic Heart Workcamp with the youth of Adams County, be blessed by parishioners welcoming me into their homes, and so much more. I cannot say enough of the amazing and blessed experience I had in Adams County. One of the most important aspects of ministry that I think I learned the most is this: to walk with and, God willing, help lead the people of God in their faith journey in Christ.
This may seem like an obvious notion of the need for this in ministry, however one that I never registered and understood the importance of until this summer. I had some amazing people in my life down in Adams County, and I realized the need to be out and present with the people; to talk to them, and to hear their concerns, struggles, joys, and need of advice in their spiritual life. You learn so much about the people of God and what they need to help them learn. This is something that I have been thinking about so much lately and for good reason.
As many of you know, I am an outgoing person. I make it a point to talk to all the parishioners and get to know as many people as I can. With talking to many people at parishes, I have encountered many responses from people I encounter that are along these lines:"It is good to see our future priests care", or "Never lose your smile and love for God and being with His people." These comments are not bad or necessarily reflect any negative feelings or situations, but on several occasions when I got into personal, private conversations with those same people who made those statements, a sad and shocking story comes fourth: a bad experience with a priest or seminarians. We are not just talking about bad experiences back in the 60's, 70's, but even from today. I can also say that I, too, have seen this.
Now, this is not a bash priests and my fellow seminarians rant. I know many who do a good job with this, but we are by no means perfect. I am sure most priests and seminarians many not even be aware if they even do this. This is just an observation and an encouraging call for all of us, not just priests and seminarians. I now see the importance of going out and not only talking with and listening to questions, concerns, and possible needs of the people, but also to pray with them. I am not just talking about having mass for people, but going and praying the rosary with the parishioners after mass, inviting them to pray other prayers with you, etc. This is key to leading and walking with the people of God. I know in Adams County, I saw this with a lot of what Fr. Bedel would do. We always prayed the rosary with the people before almost every mass during the week, and invited anyone to come pray the prayers in the Divine Office. I appreciate this lesson from Fr. Bedel.
It is important for us to be out and available to people, even as seminarians. As seminarians, it is so important to be out with the youth to help encourage and ease concerns over seminary for those young men who struggle with the decision of seminary, and for all vocations. It is important that we help go and learn how to approach and help people, and show Christ's love to all of God's people.
I also want to stress that priests have a very busy job. I know there are so many items a priest has to do during the day and week, it can become overwhelming. Priests also need their personal time and some down time from the busyness of parish life. This is something that people also need to appreciate and understand about priests, they are human too. Sometimes finding this helpful balance between personal time and walking with the people takes some time, but we can never neglect helping the people of God in their faith journey.
I hope to keep up on the blog better this school year, as I hope you will be with me in my journey to the priesthood. Please always remember to pray for priests and seminarians; not only for their vocation, but that they may strive for holiness and be blessed with the gifts to Walk with Christ with the People of God.