Thursday, March 6, 2014

A brief survey regarding Catholic pastors

Well, I'm in the throes of a lovely two-day migraine (which is why I didn't post yesterday).  But I wanted to put this brief "survey" post up today--these are things I've been thinking about in light not only of the FMC situation but of other situations where many of us (myself included) have a tendency to believe, in any conflict between a bishop or pastor and group of lay people, that the laity must be in the right.

I'm not advocating for any kind of return to clericalism, mind you.  The attitude that priests are always right and lay people must always defer to them gets poisonous really quickly, not just for us, but for them as well.  Pope Francis isn't the only recent pope to warn about clericalism and its dangers.

But I suspect that the "lay people are always right!" attitude is coming from some real place, and with that in mind, I invite you to answer these questions in the comment box (and I apologize for not knowing how to do those nice embedded surveys, but I'm technologically impaired).  They are all "yes/no" questions, so you can simply put "1. Yes, 2. No," or whatever if you participate.

1. I believe my pastor fully accepts all Church teachings and is faithful to the Magisterium.

2. My pastor is an approachable man and I believe we could have a perfectly civil conversation about anything at all, especially Church matters.

3. My pastor is kind, respectful, and polite in his dealings with his flock.

4. My pastor is aware of the realities that 21st-century working families face, and is considerate in his scheduling of parish events and activities, especially those that are mandatory for parents such as sacramental prep. classes or meetings.

5. My pastor is aware that many families are struggling financially these days, and does not assume, in his fundraising efforts, that most people have a great deal of disposable income which they squander on luxuries.

6. My pastor is fully supportive of the Church's pro-life teachings and creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to large families, families with small children, etc.  He also supports pro-life ministries, especially those which give direct aid to women in crisis pregnancies, and permits information about NFP and/or NFP classes to be shared at the parish.

7. If I ever had a serious issue with something at my parish, I know I could talk to my pastor openly and honestly about it, and he would listen without being dismissive or defensive.

8. While my pastor is firm when it comes to Church teaching, I know that when it comes to mere parish policies or rules he puts people above policy whenever possible.

9.  My pastor may, quite naturally, know some people at the parish better than others, but he does not have an "in-group" or "clique" of lay people within the parish.

10. My pastor makes every effort to recognize his flock and learn their names.

Thanks in advance to all who participate!  I am aiming this at my fellow Catholics, but if you're not Catholic just say so in the comments along with your answers.

11 comments:

federoff11 said...

1. I believe my pastor fully accepts all Church teachings and is faithful to the Magisterium. YES

2. My pastor is an approachable man and I believe we could have a perfectly civil conversation about anything at all, especially Church matters. YES

3. My pastor is kind, respectful, and polite in his dealings with his flock. YES

4. My pastor is aware of the realities that 21st-century working families face, and is considerate in his scheduling of parish events and activities, especially those that are mandatory for parents such as sacramental prep. classes or meetings. YES

5. My pastor is aware that many families are struggling financially these days, and does not assume, in his fundraising efforts, that most people have a great deal of disposable income which they squander on luxuries. YES

6. My pastor is fully supportive of the Church's pro-life teachings and creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to large families, families with small children, etc. He also supports pro-life ministries, especially those which give direct aid to women in crisis pregnancies, and permits information about NFP and/or NFP classes to be shared at the parish. YES

7. If I ever had a serious issue with something at my parish, I know I could talk to my pastor openly and honestly about it, and he would listen without being dismissive or defensive. YES

8. While my pastor is firm when it comes to Church teaching, I know that when it comes to mere parish policies or rules he puts people above policy whenever possible. NOT SURE

9. My pastor may, quite naturally, know some people at the parish better than others, but he does not have an "in-group" or "clique" of lay people within the parish. YES

10. My pastor makes every effort to recognize his flock and learn their names. YES

Let me add, we have been at our new parish about 6 months now, and it is a lovely NO, though the pastor would like to add some Latin. (Yea!) (He also came to the parish about 8 months ago). His homilies are very good, his liturgy is always reverent, he reaches out to the young (he is in his late 30's). He is bilingual, and very orthodox, yet approachable and funny. He loves our large family, and he is excited that my three boys (and only my boys) are altar servers.

Nancy said...

1. Yes

2. So-so: he seems very stand-offish and unfriendly. I'm sure our conversation would be civil, I just don't think he invites conversation at all (he never makes eye contact if he can help it!).

3. So-so: he is new to the parish, about 2 years, and he certainly disregarded people's feelings in all sorts of things when he came in. Perhaps that's the way it has to be when you take over a new parish??

4. Yes

5. Yes

6. So-so: I think he is fully on-board with the church's teaching on this. But when he came in, he got rid of the nursery and Sunday children's preschool, which I though was rather unfriendly to families with babies and preschoolers. However, perhaps they ought to be in church with the family. But, it basically just ends up that I leave the baby home with Dad, because he is such a terror!

7. Maybe??

8. No: I don't think so. He is a micro-manager and doesn't have very good people skills. He likes to follow the rules to a T.

9. Not sure

10. No: as I said, he avoids all eye contact if he can help it! At least that's been my impression. He didn't even show any interest in me when I came up with my 6-month-old baby! If you can uninterested in a baby and new mother in your congregation, you are not a people person!

Muscovite said...

YES to all 10 questions. We have a wonderful priest and I'll be sorry to see him go when they do the "every-six-years-musical-chairs" with the priests of our diocese.

If I were to answer these questions for our bishop, my answers would be: 1, 2, and 3: no; 4, 5: not sure; 6: yes; 7, 8: no; 9, 10: not sure.

John Henry said...

Unqualified Yes to 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,10. In regards to 4 and 6, it's a qualified yes: our pastor is orthodox and well-intentioned, but I really wish confession and NFP classes were easier to come by. It's not our pastor's fault, just something I've noticed: getting in to confession and finding NFP resources have always felt like pulling teeth. I'd love to see our Church making these easier and more accessible.

Мaria said...

Yes to all! For both our priests, actually

Kirt Higdon said...

Yes to all except 4, where I assume yes, but really don't know from personal experience as I don't have any young kids. I've heard no complaints from those who do. On 6, I don't know if anyone is trying to distribute NFP information in the parish, but can't imagine that the pastor would impede it if they are. My current pastor is probably the best one I have ever had.

Kirt Higdon

Deirdre Mundy said...

Yes on all. We have a good pastor, and he seems to do a good job balancing everyone's needs. As an adult, I've been really blessed in my parishes. Every priest has had a different combination of strengths and weaknesses, but they've all been orthodox guys who take their vocations seriously and really love the Eucharist.

That doesn't mean that we always agree on everything, but... as I age, I'm seeing more and more how their 'pastoral' is a better approach than my 'I came to give candy and punch heretics and I just ran out of candy' inclinations.

priest's wife said...

I can honestly say YES to all of these...but the pastor is my husband. But maybe some of the yeses are because we are so very very small (like the memorizing of names- but he is good with that at the hospital as well)

Barbara C. said...

Our pastor gets a "YES" to every question. We are so blessed to have him. He's fairly young (42), but he's become someone that the diocese uses to train new pastors.

He has a tough job, dealing with a bilingual parish that is really divided ethnically in some ways. One one side he has a lot of Mexican immigrants who were not properly taught about the faith because of the political issues in Mexico's history. On the other side he has a lot of slightly liberal baby boomer types.

federoff11 said...

You don't want me to answer this regarding our bishop. To find a good priest in this diocese, the Faithful know you have to go "out into the desert" where they have been banished.

BUT, our bishop does have a super-scary ability to remember EVERYONE'S names. Even after meeting them only once.

Shadowfax said...

1. I believe my pastor fully accepts all Church teachings and is faithful to the Magisterium. Not sure.

2. My pastor is an approachable man and I believe we could have a perfectly civil conversation about anything at all, especially Church matters. No

3. My pastor is kind, respectful, and polite in his dealings with his flock. No--he can be quite rude.

4. My pastor is aware of the realities that 21st-century working families face, and is considerate in his scheduling of parish events and activities, especially those that are mandatory for parents such as sacramental prep. classes or meetings. No

5. My pastor is aware that many families are struggling financially these days, and does not assume, in his fundraising efforts, that most people have a great deal of disposable income which they squander on luxuries. Yes

6. My pastor is fully supportive of the Church's pro-life teachings and creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to large families, families with small children, etc. He also supports pro-life ministries, especially those which give direct aid to women in crisis pregnancies, and permits information about NFP and/or NFP classes to be shared at the parish. Yes, qualified---he preaches regularly on abortion, contraception, etc, but he comes across as not liking children much.

7. If I ever had a serious issue with something at my parish, I know I could talk to my pastor openly and honestly about it, and he would listen without being dismissive or defensive. No

8. While my pastor is firm when it comes to Church teaching, I know that when it comes to mere parish policies or rules he puts people above policy whenever possible. Not sure.

9. My pastor may, quite naturally, know some people at the parish better than others, but he does not have an "in-group" or "clique" of lay people within the parish. No.

10. My pastor makes every effort to recognize his flock and learn their names. Yes, qualified--I think he recognizes most, but I am not sure how well he knows names.