What will the collar represent now? – Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas

What will the collar represent now? –  Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas

Every morning when I put my collar on I pray for a deeper awareness of the great responsibility and magnitude of what it represents. I am aware of my sinfulness and unworthiness to even touch it. Any of my friends or family can let you know my failures, they’ve seen it first-hand. I know what it’s like to say the words, “Father forgive me for I have sinned,” or to pray a perfect act of contrition before I celebrate Mass.

I was a high school and college student when the priest scandals first broke in the Northeast. I knew the constant scrutiny and the shadow that would be cast if I chose to become a priest. I knew the eyes of suspicion that would follow the title “Father”. But I moved forward in ministry and then into many parishes, resolute in my vocation.

This week I have been walking around with a heavy heart. I have been completely angry and frustrated as a result of the Pennsylvania abuse reports and the McCarrick situation. My continual prayer has been for the victims. As each news story continues, my heart is torn more apart. Now, what does the collar represents the complete opposite of what it should. As I walked around, I wonder how many people who glance at my collar will wonder, “Is this one too?”

What Will the Collar Represent Now?

These past days as I moved from the rectory to the church, from the halls of the nursing homes and hospitals, as I’ve passed out school supplies to numerous neighborhood youth, I’ve had this one thought, “Take the collar off.”

This morning, I didn’t want to put my collar on. I was ashamed. I was tired. I was angry. I didn’t want to be painted with a stained brush. But I did. Then later, as I visited sick parishioners in the hospital, I walked by a woman standing outside a room. As I continued to the elevator, she came up from behind, asking if I was a Catholic priest. I was ready to take the hit… but as I turned and said “Yes,” she asked, with tears in her eyes, if I would anoint her brother who was dying with cancer.

No matter what I have thought about the collar these past few days, she saw it as a sign of hope and of the presence of Christ. If I decided not to wear it, her brother would not have received the sacrament he needed and her entire family might not have experienced comfort.

The collar is not about me. It is about Jesus Christ. It is about us remembering that we are not journeying alone in this world. Again, I am certainly unworthy to wear it, but I realize I’m called to wear it, not for myself, but for the sake of others. As I put it on, I now must remember to ask God’s help to grow into a holy priest of God, a bridge and not an obstacle.

Moving Past the Horror

I apologize for any pain I’ve caused while wearing the collar, the times I’ve ignored my duty to be a good, holy, faith-filled priest. I ask for prayers of forgiveness and strength.

I apologize to those who have been deeply wounded in the most horrific ways by members of the Church from the top down. The Church was called to be there to protect, and the men in charge have failed at times.

I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I know I have to put that collar on. Ministry continues, even though it might be harder, because there are still souls that Christ is seeking to bring into His presence and peace. Know that you are in my prayers continually and in your kindness please throw up a prayer for me.

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10 thoughts on “What will the collar represent now? – Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas”

  • Dear Father Warner,
    Please allow me to acknowledge this here. I have seen you since the past 7 years when you were appointed to our parish and I have known you since the past 3 years roughly.
    I don’t care who thinks what about you as a priest, but I know that you are one priest I can count on for my spiritual guidance and support. You are a true example of hope and love to n number of our pariahoners. As I began to know you closely, I realise how selfless and generous you are ! There are things that you do which go unnoticed and every time I realise the effort that you put in, I whisper a prayer for you.
    Don’t worry if you fail. We all do. But I know your faith will make you rise gain and continue this journey of your priesthood.
    I learn from you so much and I always look up to you to adopt the principles that you hold to live a good Christian life.
    My prayers are with you and May our Lord grant you the strength and peace to carry on every day ! Have a great day 😃

  • Father, You take a lot of efforts for us to grow Spiritually & Personally. Lord sent an angel, a good shepherd, a mentor, a teacher, a father, a friend, a person who resembles the way of life lived by Jesus Christ.. Every day teaching us the ways of loving & caring others thus guiding us to walk in the path of Jesus Christ. Father, we are blessed to have you with us😊

  • Your strength to what you do gives others the strength to do right..so yes ..you and all priests would always be in my prayers..
    One cannot jusge another just by one story..
    Also i know..if i point a finger at another..the rest are pointing at me..

  • Very dear Father Warner
    It’s with great pride, respect and prayers that I say what a wonderful priest and professor you have been to me. In fact i would like to inclde all the priests whom I have encountered in life. We are eternally indebted to you anointed men of God. Without priests who would baptise us, bring Heaven down on the Altar, and who would stand before Heaven and kock on the great door to open and let us parishioners enter? .
    We need you Fathers no matter what anyone says. May God bless you.
    In the love of Jesus Christ

  • We Catholics are truly blessed by many wonderful priests, please do not feel ashamed for the evil perpetuated by a few. We are angry with the bishops responsible for the cover up.I am saddened that there is no accountability. Evil should always be exposed. May the Good Lord Jesus grant us His saving help.

  • Dear Fr,

    You are a special blessing to a number of people especially the youth.
    From my personal experience I have realized at times the way you think
    and act towards the youth even being strict at times is because you
    know the potential that person has to bring the best out of them.
    I have seen a number of us who have turned more towards prayer and leading a better Christian life just because of you.
    Even though I am in another country the ways that I am inspired by you to serve God in ways possible and care for people is still there.
    Thank you for being an inspiration to me.
    Your always in my prayers. 🙂

  • Dearest Fr. Warner…. from the past few years that I have known you, you are an amazing person, a priest who sincerely makes every attempt to bring people close to Jesus, someone who goes above and beyond the role of possibly a priest too, to make sure we turn towards God, a man who never gives up on his people and their ability to make a difference, someone whose generosity knows no measure….. Ofcourse we all are humans and make mistakes…
    The news we’ve been hearing about the happenings in the church are shocking but wat is praiseworthy is that you’ve never shied away from sharing any such news even on the public platform, being a priest urself…
    Looking at you put efforts, inspires us to go that one more mile and take steps in faith…
    You know for urself, the many lives uve changed over the past 7 yrs here at St. Jude’s.. and continue to change… I can’t even imagine the number of people u must have ministered right since the time you began ur priestly journey….
    I understand these happenings must have affected you and hurt you deeply.. May he grant you the strength and the grace to continue the great work you have taken up of ministering to his people… May u always feel his presence by your side to comfort you, guard you and strengthen you…
    You are always in our prayers Fr. Warner ♥️♥️

  • Beautiful views by Fr. Jonathan. May he continue to be a priest who is a true representative of Christ in all his dealings. The very thought of being ashamed n hurt of wat has happened itself shows the beauty at which he looks at his vocation. Pray for all the victims. Can imagine wat each has gone thru.

  • Fr Warner. We may not always agree. But you and thousands of priests have been an inspiration to me and other families. Yes we are broken and wounded. But that is the mystery of the Cross. We love you our priests and we pray for you as we stand besides you at this time of purification. Remember, priests come from families. We, families, raised these sinful priests. They did not spring from seminaries. We are as much guilty before God. And so together we cry to God to have mercy on us His Church.

  • Dear farther,
    What I admired about u is humility,when we humble ourself,God exalt us,u represented all the priests,and I pray that all the priests inthe world will be touched and change and respect the collar,as for me while I am praying toGod ,God said He is very happy that u explained the meaning of the collar, May God bless u and keep u safe .Mrs Thomas


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