Presbytery life is what those who live there make of it, as with any people sharing a house together. A presbytery should be a real home for the one or more priests of the parish, and anyone else who shares it with them.
Some presbyteries still have housekeepers, full-time or part-time, and they are greatly valued. More and more, however, priests have to look after themselves just like anyone else. Cooking skills and cleaning inclinations are very acceptable among candidates for ordination!
The presbytery should be a place where the priest can relax and feel at home. But it is never his private house, cut off from the parish. The priest’s house is in many ways the parish house. All the sacrifices the priest is asked to make are intended to make him more open and available for those he serves, and this has to include his house and home. This inevitably involves some sacrifice of a priest’s privacy and freedom. Even if the presbytery is not literally open as some are, with parishioners free to drop in, it has always to be an open house in the deepest sense, a place where people experience the welcome of the Good Shepherd. If a presbytery is open and welcoming, people can be sure their priests are too.
WHAT SHALL I DO WITH MY LIFE?
If you are wondering what to do with your life,
if you feel you want to do something really great with it,
if you don’t want to fall into a conventional, self-centred existence,
if you want to help other people in the deepest way possible,
where they most need help,
then think about the service of the Gospel in the priesthood.
If you become a priest,
you will never be rich,
you will have to give up the love of a partner
for the love of everyone you meet;
you will have to give up your family commitments;
you will often be on the move;
you will never have a mortgage;
you will be under obedience to the leader of the Church
just as Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father.
But if you are faithful to the ideal of the priesthood,
you will have the deep happiness
which Jesus gives to those who are his friends.
One last thing;
you don’t have to be perfect to think of being a priest.
Jesus chooses ordinary people, not moral heroes.
You just have to want to serve him;
he will give you the rest in due course.
(Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville) 36
Give me the priest these graces shall possess:
of an ambassador the just address,
a father’s tenderness, a shepherd’s care,
a leader’s courage which the cross can bear,
a ruler’s arm, a watchman’s wakeful eye,
a pilot’s skill, the helm in storms to ply,
a fisher’s patience and a labourer’s toil,
a guide’s dexterity to disembroil,
a prophet’s inspiration from above,
a teacher’s knowledge and a Saviour’s love.
Thomas Ken (1637 - 1711), a non-juring Anglican bishop
36 Birmingham Archdiocesan Vocations Booklet
A DEMANDING BUT JOYFUL MINISTRY!
No one suggests it is easy to be a priest. Every priestly ministry, whether in a parish, chaplaincy or some other form of service, has its difficulties and burdens. Jesus promised nothing less than the cross! To be a priest is to walk the path of Jesus himself, and to walk beside others in Jesus’ name. We have only to read the Gospels to see what this will involve if it is really his ministry that we seek to bring to others.
But we can also see there the wonder of ministry as an ‘apostle’ and ‘ambassador’ of the Lord. The disciples came back from the towns and villages rejoicing because of what God had done through them (Luke 10. 17). It is the Risen Jesus who ministers through his priests, and he continues to work with them and confirm their ministry as he did the apostles Mark 16.20). To be a priest is to be a minister of the healing peace and uplifting joy of the Easter Jesus. The priest who lives his ministry truly open to his Lord will find his heart burning within him as he helps others to recognise Jesus present in their lives.
HERE I AM, LORD
Son, you are not alone, I am with you …
Out of all eternity, I chose you. I need you.
I need your hands to continue to bless,
I need your lips to continue to speak,
I need your body to continue to suffer,
I need your heart to continue to love,
I need you to continue to save.
Stay with me, son.
Here I am, Lord;
here is my body, here is my heart, here is my soul …
I repeat to you my ‘Yes’
- not in a burst of laughter, but slowly, clearly, humbly.
(Michel Quoist) 39
39 Prayers for Life pp. 49-51 (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin).