By Angela Orlando
A recent comment by a parishioner pointed to the fact that some of us only see the priests at Mass on the weekend. Do they just celebrate Mass and then they’re free for the rest of the week? Really? Do you believe that? When you think about full time employment, you think of a 40 hour (or thereabout) week. Not for Father!
Yes, our priests celebrate the weekend Masses. Before those celebrations, they review the scriptures and prepare the homily so that it “fits” the scriptures. Oh, and yes they do the same for the daily Masses celebrated at 7:00 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. with another Mass at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays at one of our area Nursing Homes and then there’s the School Mass at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday for nine months of the year. Masses are scheduled for the beginning of the RE year and third Sunday for the (high school) CYM groups. Then there are the Holy Days and the Holidays. Oh, and don’t forget the Marathon of Masses celebrated for Christmas and Easter. Those are the scheduled Masses. When one of our priests is gone for long periods (illness) we call in retired priests or priests from other parishes to celebrate with us. Our priests share themselves with other parishes as well when needed.
More Masses? Yep, we celebrate about 85 Funerals every year and that means the celebrant will often join the Music Minister when the family plans the liturgy. The Resurrection Mass continues to the cemetery where the committal is completed. That might be a really long day if the cemetery is in Chicago. Thank goodness, the priests are often invited to the luncheon—we don’t want them falling over from hunger pangs.
And more Masses? Yep, another fifty or so. We celebrate Marriages in fine style at St. Isidore and that means sometimes another Mass. But long before that happens, Father has met with the couple at least once and often more to counsel the couple and prepare their liturgy.
We tie them up for about two hours on Saturday morning for Confessions. And then we celebrate Group Reconciliation during Advent and Lent. We invite priests from other parishes to assist during those. That means our priests get invited back to their parishes. During the school year, our parish schedules Reconciliation for the school and for the grades 3-8 Religious Education program along with sessions for the Confirmandees and the High School students.
Hm! Is that all they do? NO! Those are the two things that every priest in parish ministry does because those are the two things that only a priest can do.
When the call comes in that someone is in Hospice or is dying or has been admitted to the hospital with a life threatening illness, that pager goes off and one of the priests responds—day or night. Visiting parishioners may involve a trip to the local hospitals, nursing homes or private homes.
Not enough to fill their days? Meetings, meetings and more meetings. Parish Council, commission meetings, organization meetings such as the Council of Catholic Women (CCW) and Knights of Columbus (KC). Our priests teach an occasional class in the school throughout the year. Just to round out their lives, they serve as chaplains for St. Francis and Montini High Schools and assist at St. Alexander Parish. And then there are the Blessings for new houses, new cars, new sacramentals such as rosaries, crucifixes and the occasional engagement ring.
Trips to the Diocese for meetings involve a one hour drive each way in addition to meeting time. The answer to “What do you do all day?” should be obvious. And occasionally, our priests visit with their own family, friends and classmates—if they have time.
When do you sleep, Father?