We should continue to show appreciation for our priests Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Jun. 17, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

Back when I was growing up, priests were an important part of my daily life. I attended a Catholic school and the students went to Mass every morning during the week, so we saw our parish priests almost every day.

Besides celebrating Mass, our priests taught in the school. They prepared us for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion and gave us those sacraments for the first time and many times after that.

Priests touch our lives

Our priests knew us by name. I can remember going to Confession once and having the priest call me by name. And here I thought I was anonymous!

Our priests visited our homes when someone was sick, bringing a kind word and Communion to the homebound. They were also with us in times of joy and sadness, for both weddings and funerals.

There are so many priests who have touched our lives, priests who have sacrificed their own lives so that they can minister to other people.

Special relationship

As he concluded the Year for Priests on June 11, Pope Benedict XVI talked about the special relationship priests have with their people. It mirrors how God knows and loves us.

“God wants us, as priests, to be persons who share his concern for men and women, who take care of them and provide them with a concrete experience of God’s concern,” said the Holy Father in his homily at the concluding Mass.

The Holy Father referred to the symbol of the good shepherd, often used in Scripture. Priests should know their sheep, said the Holy Father. To “know” never refers to merely exterior knowledge, he said, “like the knowledge of someone’s telephone number.

“‘Knowing’ means being inwardly close to another person. It means loving him or her,” said Pope Benedict. “We should strive to ‘know’ men and women as God does and for God’s sake; we should strive to walk with them along the path of God’s friendship.”

I think this is a beautiful image of the priest. Many priests I’ve known do indeed follow that model of the good shepherd as they strive to know their parishioners and those they serve, be it in hospital ministry, education, health care, or other areas of ministry.

So many wonderful priests quietly bring the message of faith, hope, and love to people each and every day. They are such a marvelous gift to the Church and the world

Not the end but the beginning

The Catholic Church has celebrated the Year for Priests from June of 2009 to June of 2010. I hope that this isn’t the end but the beginning of showing appreciation for our priests.  Hopefully during this past year, people have expressed their gratitude to their priests and offered prayers for them.

We should continue to let our priests know we appreciate them and love them. A card, spiritual bouquet, or even a home-cooked meal or invitation to dinner at a restaurant might be some ways to show our appreciation.

Some priests in our diocese are observing milestones of ordination this year. A card or message to these priests would especially be appropriate.

In addition, we will be welcoming two newly ordained priests — Deacons David Carrano and Gregory Ihm — into the presbyterate of the Diocese of Madison on June 25. They, too, would appreciate your congratulations and prayers as they begin their service as priests.