How often have you gotten to the end of the day and been totally exhausted and unfulfilled? You’re tired, but not because you spent time counseling a couple preparing for marriage, or because you spent an hour in the confessional after several pastoral visits, or because you visited the parish school and had to dominate on the basketball court. You’re tired because in between each of those personal moments of encounter so many tiny logistical and administrative things had to be taken care of that you know you weren’t as present as you could have and should have been.
When it comes to parish life and evangelization, we need to talk about the elephant in the room: there isn’t enough time. Between celebrating the Mass, pastoral visits, marriage prep meetings, visiting the parish school, giving a talk at a Theology on Tap, and somehow finding a moment to pray, priests barely have enough time just to make it through a normal day. Having lay people on staff and in various ministries is extremely helpful, but even they can often be overworked. Plus, at the end of the day, there are certain things only a priest can do and a presence only a priest can have.
Parish life is non-stop. Whether it’s a marriage prep, meeting with a family after a loved one has passed, visiting an elementary class, or leading a bible study, there’s always a next thing to do. In the midst of all of the bustle, it’s incredibly easy for details to slip through the cracks and small annoyances to start adding up. One of these details is simply knowing where to go for your next pastoral care visit.
Life for new associate pastors can be crazy. Not only are they adjusting to a new public life as a priest, they are meeting hundreds if not thousands of new people, trying to figure out the workflow of the parish, learning how to follow the guidance of their pastor, administering the Sacraments, and trying to be fully present each step along the way. It can quickly become overwhelming. Take for example, the story of one young priest and a demanding pastor.
Woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.
Simple gestures build community
Anyone who has presided at, or even helped coordinate, a wedding knows that they are likely going to feel overwhelmed at some point. The amount of the details from the flowers to the number of people in the wedding party is often incredible, not to mention the forms, the readings, that special request. Simply put, there’s a lot going on. So for most of us, after the wedding comes and goes, we wipe the sweat off of our forehead, and say “Thank God that’s over.” And then we move on to the next emergency. The hard reality of parish life is that there is no let up. A priest may have a funeral, baptism, wedding, and fundraiser event in a single day (not to mention the emergency call to go to the hospital).
The word is getting out
We are so grateful to have been interviewed on Driving Home the Faith with Fr. Rob Jack through Sacred Heart Radio. If you’re hoping to learn more of the history and how Pastoral Parish can make the Sacraments more accessible and the journey to the Sacraments more enjoyable, take a listen!
Thanks to Fr. Jack for having us on the air!
Hear about Fr. Josh and Paul with Fr. Jack at 1:08:13