Seeking the shepherd!

In all probability your pulpit may see a new face on the first Sunday in June. For the Archdiocese of Bombay this is transfer time and even though I am not being transferred, I thought a few helpful tips for my lay brothers and sisters are in order.

  1. The priest is a stranger to your parish community.

It may seem to you that priests ‘come and go’ (as some lay faithful love to bandy about), but they are human; flesh and blood men who have emotions and feelings. Understand that they have just been called out from a parish they may have served and loved for several years. Many of their former congregants are are now close friends and perhaps even considered family. With a stroke of the Archbishop’s pen they have to leave it all and move to a new parish. Perhaps they do it willingly, but make no mistake it weighs heavily on the heart. Now that he has arrived in your parish, the best thing you can do for this ‘stranger’ is to make him feel welcome. You don’t have to wait for Vianney Sunday to pump his hand. You can simply accost him in the sacristy and greet him if he is a bit wary to stroll with confidence in the Church compound on his first Sunday. A smile is all it takes, and for good measure throw in a word of welcome.

  1. Remember it’s tough to start all over again

Think of when you moved jobs, when you moved homes or when you changed a mind-set. Starting over is never easy. Now that the priest has come in to your parish he needs to understand its ethos, figure out its needs, and connect with the people; the list goes on. Cut him some slack for a while. Don’t measure him up to the standards of the former priest who has just left after having been with you for five odd years. The truth is that it takes a priest almost a year to figure out the parish and another year for the parishioners to figure him out. By the time everyone has begun to trust each other and get along just fine, it’s often the end of his third year and then just when the honeymoon begins, the marching orders arrive. So don’t hang on to the side lines; make sure the ball is in play from the minute the priest arrives.

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