This week it is my duty and my joy to attend the annual Diocesan Priest’s Convocation. What huge troubles we have! Being a Catholic priest today is fraught with enormous uncertainties and problems. Most of have to juggle two or three flocks. In my case I have the high school, the parish, the parish school and Vietnamese congregation in the parish. Other priests are dealing with large Hispanic congregations, huge churches with growing population and dwindling resources. Plus the age of our presbyterate is clear. We’re getting old and we’re not replacing the numbers. In South Carolina we need more priests. The Catholic population is growing. So we’re bringing in men from Africa and India and South America, but that has ‘solution’ has enormous problems that go with it too.
Added to all this are the difficulties all priests face today of isolation, misunderstanding and often real persecution. I’m afraid the problems are then increased by some of the priests who see their ministry as some sort of ego trip or power struggle. It’s heartbreaking to hear tales of good, honest and sincere men who are sidelined because of jealousy, suspicion, fear and some pitiful priest who has to be competitive about everything. Then there are the priests who have real problems with relationships or loneliness, drink, health problems or crises of faith.
Faced with the huge difficulties it is wonderful to see how many of our priests soldier on with little complaint and with a certain down to earth cheerfulness. They get on with the job. They’re wise and shrewd and most of them still carry a nice sense of self deprecating humor.
I am humble to be one of them, and I just hope no one catches on and comes to realize what a fraud I am.