Greetings in Christ! The priest’s convocation went really well. I was only able to stay a day and a half, as we had a couple deaths, but the days I was there were extraordinary. We had two presenters and both were outstanding. One of them really pounded the idea of Trusting God as a key to resisting temptation: what God calls me to is always better than what I plan/want/etc. It was very powerful.

For the rest of this article, I want to walk us through the way the shortage of priests is changing how parishes work and in this case, especially ours. If you are like me, you may remember a time when there were a lot more priests and priests were basically in charge of everything at the parish. There were few to no lay employees in parishes and administratively, things were much, much easier.

A while ago, I was talking to an elderly priest (who is with the Lord now) and he told me that when he was a younger man, being a priest was actually relatively easy. He shared that the priest’s responsibilities were sacraments and some paperwork. The life of a priest involved a lot of social visits, dinners out with parishioners and maintaining the parish buildings.

Now, things are radically different. Instead of having one dial up phone in a rectory that people used for emergencies, everyone has a phone and our parish alone has dozens and dozens of numbers, each one ringing fairly constantly with people calling for help or information.  We have email: people can instantly type a message and send it to their priest and then expect a response. We have insurance and administrative issues that didn’t really exist a while ago: HR, payroll, an astonishing amount of laws and rules that are at times, totally counterintuitive.  We have insurance, which ends up having a disproportionate effect on our budget and our time. Instead of simply finding volunteers and plugging them in, we have programs now that we have to run and keep track of to make sure each volunteer is trained in the laws, rules and norms of how to help protect children.

Take all this and more and add that fact that we are running out of priests and it can give you a sense of why priests are struggling so hard right now. We signed up to serve God and His People, but end up immersed in everything but that if we are not careful. So, how to avoid the trap and yet stay faithful to the mission of a priest today?

I’ve been blessed to serve at many parishes and I brought here with me a lot of what I learned. To meet the challenges of priesthood today, I’ve focused on a couple realities:

I have to be holy. I have to be sure that I am praying, that I am accountable and that I am running a marathon, not a sprint.

I need to focus my time and energy on the things that only a priest can do. I need to resist the temptation to do things I am not called to, even when people believe they want me to do them.

I need to ensure that there is a system here in place to fill those gaps that I no longer can.

I meet the first challenge through being in a priest group that meets and does accountability exercises and spends time before the Blessed Sacrament. I make sure that I am regularly going to confession and that I am spending at least an hour a day reading and reflecting on Scripture and working on my homily for the weekend. There’s more, but that is the basics.

The second challenge is met by the staff here at Holy Family. Every day, I meet with key staff to go through what is needed, what is being asked and what direction we should take. They then spread that throughout the staff and community in whatever way is appropriate. We have people here who are trained in counseling, people who are trained in caring for children, people who are trained in assisting the poor. We have people who study my calendar to try to squeeze everything we can into it, while leaving me time to rest, eat, take care of my dad and other such things. We have people who are running our school, our religious education, our volunteers, our liturgies, all of it.

I type all these things to give you a sense of our parish and what a vital, lifegiving place it is because of those who serve it, those who pray in it, those who sacrifice for it, those who help build it. I know that, at times, some of you are disappointed at what I cannot do or what I cannot be; I get it. I get disappointed in myself, too.

What I hope we can all do is strive together and trust that each person in this chain of love, prayer and service is doing their best. I hope that we can accept each other’s limitations, rejoice in each other’s striving and ensure that all that we do is about Jesus.

Family, I love being a priest. I love being here. I promise you that every day I thank God for letting me serve you. I invite us as a family to pray for the grace to live these days well. To strive, not to recreate a reality of the past, but to live the reality He has given us.

I am confident that these are the types of days that produce the greatest of Saints. I am confident that God has and will continue to give us all we need to be the men and women He has called us to be.

Thank you, with all my heart, for letting me be your priest.


Monday – 6:30 a.m.

Tuesday – 8:15 a.m. and 7 p.m

Wednesday – 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Thursday – 6:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.

Friday – 6:30 a.m.

Saturday – 8:00 a.m. and vigil at 5 p.m.

Sunday – 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and seasonal evening Mass:

7 p.m. Memorial Day weekend in May to Labor Day weekend in September

5 p.m. after Labor Day to the weekend before Memorial Day weekend