Their discussion explored how listeners could help overloaded priests with their workload. Father Tony said that often, because priests feel it is their ministry to serve and help, they feel unsure when asked the open-ended question, ‘do you need help?’ But they can always use help.
First and foremost, Father Tony said, pray for your priest. Then he reminded listeners, as he remembered from his time in the Navy, “one critical comment wipes out ten pats on the back.” Speak positively to your priests and encourage them.
Father Tony is a proponent of “Let the laity do what the laity is called to do,” and said many tasks priests are doing can be accomplished by lay people. From help with the business work, to volunteers for mailings, to a group that takes care of the flower beds around the church – find ways that you can help around the parish.
Always appreciated is to find out which is our priest’s busiest day and make him a meal.
He continued, let the priest know it’s okay to ask for help, that he doesn’t have to do it all by himself.
John Harper encouraged one other great way a parish community can help and that is to donate the funds to send their parish priest to the NFPC National Convocation of Priests so they can get together with their brother priests, share stories, share difficulties and talk through solutions. Father Tony agreed, “There’s just something about being with 80 or 100 of your brother priests where you can share your triumphs and your sorrows.”
He continued, “I love going because it’s like going to a family reunion with all these cousins I haven’t seen in a while… And the new people who come…say it feels like I’ve gone to a family reunion and I’m the new in-law!” All are welcomed warmly.
John and Father Tony then discussed the 2018 50th Anniversary Convocation, where NFPC will look at their past, what is happening now, and take a look into the future, April 23-26 at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in downtown Chicago. Although hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Cupich will be in Rome that week. Father Tony reviewed the list of speakers and general outline including the keynote speaker, Archbishop Wilton Gregory.
John closed by encouraging all to make sure their parish priests know about the NFPC, and to consider raising the funds to send their priest to the Convocation.