A Practical Guide for Priests and Pastors, Part 2
“In your patience possess ye your souls.”
A. When you are appointed to a parish, restrain yourself. Do not make drastic changes in Altar service, music, schedule of services, et cetera. Be wise. It may be your first parish, but you are not their first priest.
“Hast thou heard the secret of God? And dost thou withhold wisdom for thyself?” Job 15:8
B. If changes are necessary, take time to explain carefully the anticipated benefits and/or reasons for the needed change. People do not always respond well to change. Give people a chance to get to know you and trust you. Introduce your idea for change. Let them get used to it. Let support for the change grow until a consensus is reached: “Why, of course, that’s exactly what needs to be done.”
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? And who shall be made to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little.” Isaiah 28:9-10
C. Seek counsel from the elders, both men and women, on how things are done in the parish.
“Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 1:14
D. Exercise patience at all times. Be careful what you say. Use a cross, prayer rope or touch your wrist watch as a reminder to be calm. Evaluate your words before you utter them.
E. Be mindful that the parishioners do not want change. If it is not broken, do not fix it. Leave it alone. Each parish has its own way of doing things. It may be new to you; but it is not new to them. Why should they change to do it your way? Change is easier for you than for them.
F. Remember that each parish is unique regardless of its size. Repentance and change of heart, mind and soul comes slowly.
G. Parishioners are impatient. They are used to instant coffee, and they expect instant healing or an instant response. Be patient. Their urgency does not create an urgent crisis for you. Everyone needs you. But there is only so much of you to go around. When your people are impatient, you must be patient.
May God grant you many years of fruitful ministry.
A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR PRIESTS & PASTORS by Fr. Constantine Nasr may be ordered from St. Ignatius Book Store 405-755-7804 or firstname.lastname@example.org The price is $15 plus $1.50 s/h.