Fr. Tony spoke on Relevant Radio with John Harper (Morning Air), December 13, 2017 about ideas for gifts to give to your parish priest for Christmas.
John began with the thought that we obviously want to pray for our parish priest, but the next thought that comes to mind is “maybe a little companionship.” That could be dinner or a gift certificate or a food delivery service.
“I always love a dinner invitation,” says Fr. Tony. He continued that although he loves to cook, there is often just no time. His parish has begun a wonderful ministry of collaborating with a number of parishioners to have a meal delivered to the rectory every Thursday night, and “it’s amazing.”
John asked about “the companionship…the witness of my family… It’s not only a gift for my kids to see that you’re just a regular guy who’s coming over for dinner, but I’m sure that helps you and your ministry as well.”
Fr. Tony agreed, “You are absolutely right. For me, it’s being in a normal family for a while…. sitting down and watching the family dynamic and being part of the family life.”
John asked about maybe gas cards for your traveling needs. “An excellent gift,” says Fr. Tony, especially because it often has to come out of pocket.
John asked if parishioners should be concerned about invitations to dinner or anything that involves the pastor’s time. Father Tony assured, “I always tell people…please ask and keep asking, even if I say no a half a dozen times because I’m booked. Sooner or later I will say yes.”
John continued, how about subscriptions to great Catholic periodicals? Fr. Tony explained that priests usually get copies for those as a part of their jobs.
Then John wondered, what type of Catholic gift might you want, beyond our prayers?
Fr. Tony responded, “That’s hard because if you get your priest any sort of Catholic icons or things like that, very quickly our houses turn into Catholic museums.”
John summarized that he felt the Holy Spirit was at work as what was emerging from the conversation was giving the gift of time: to get to know who priests are as a human being, to connect with them on a more personal level. John said, “That’s going to be a stronger bond in you helping me on the way to heaven and I’m going to help you as well.”
Father Tony added, “It also helps that there are people out there who know me outside of my role so that when they’re in conversation with other people who don’t, and there is an opinion about me that is clearly out of whack, then the people that I am closer to can say ‘Well that’s not him at all – you really need to get to know him.’”
He continued, “But isn’t that what we’re about in our relationship with God even. The more time we spend with Him, the more we know about Him, the closer we can bring other people to Him.”
Father Tony concluded, “But…priests are just as different from one coast to the other just like everybody is. You do have guys who are true introverts and so the thing to get them is not time with them, but to give them the ability to have time away and alone.”
John reminded everyone that the Morning Air website had more resources for Christmas gifts, and offered his thanks to Fr. Tony.