How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.
This text from Psalm 133 is one with special meaning to any seminarian who must seek to live in unity with his brothers if he is to have some peace in his life! But it should have special meaning to all priests who need to cultivate deep, supportive friendships with fellow priests if they are to live a happy and healthy priesthood.
Father Gerry Hurley and a team of parishioners at St. Paul in Flowood have hosted area priests for dinner around St. Patrick’s Day for the last 16 years. Now that I am almost five years a priest, I find that these events are precious opportunities to spend time as brothers. We were able to relax and tell stories and laugh with one another for an evening, and it was a life-giving event. In the seminary, those opportunities were almost nightly. We always had some event that we had to help out with or an impromptu study session or dinner conversation that took us deep into the evening, but in the field, we are usually all very busy with our parishes and our other assignments, and so it is truly good and pleasant to have time to just be together for no other reason than to visit.
Priests are not married, but we still must have support. Our greatest support comes from our relationship with the Lord. We cultivate this in the seminary as our formators instill in us the absolute necessity of daily meditative prayer beyond simply saying the “mandatory” daily prayers of the breviary. Of course, we also cultivate a deep and life-giving relationship with our parishioners. But just as important is the encouragement and brotherhood of our fellow priests. There is a level of camaraderie and common cause that we need in order to stay on track and keep living our call. An isolated priest or seminarian can begin to doubt his call. A priest or seminarian who can quickly and effectively reach out for the support of a listening ear will be able to weather the storms that stir up during the course of his ministry.
There is a lot that seminarians are responsible for after they get done with class each day. Some of them serve in student government or on planning committees for seminary fundraisers. All seminarians have pastoral assignments at various ministries throughout each school year, and all of these obligations are carried out with others, which can be a challenge in itself! But looking back, I see that these obligations instilled in me a deep love for community. It is truly good and pleasant for there to be unity of purpose and faith and for that to be lived out in community. Diocesan priesthood by its nature gives us priests plenty of time to be with parishioners, and this is a great blessing, but I am convinced that I must be dedicated to cultivating deep and lasting brotherhood with my fellow priests as well. Please pray for our presbyterate, that we can continue to grow in unity and support one another to continue to follow the Lord’s will.
– Father Nick Adam
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