Posted on 20 July 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
In June and into July, many newly ordained priests have reported to their first assignment as associate or assistant (as my old pastor used to say, “The first three letters are the same”). These days we hear often the fancy term “parochial vicar”.
After the excitement of ordination, the grace-filled bliss of Masses of Thanksgiving, hearing confessions for the first time, visiting classmates for their ordinations, things settle down to the quotidian life of being a priest.
For some the transition is easy. For many there are difficulties.
I’ve been getting a number of emails and messages this week from men who were ordained this year, complaining, and/or asking questions about how to handle their pastor.
- One pastor refuses to let the newly ordained priest make use of the “fiddleback” vestments his family gave him as an ordination gift.
- Another new priest must do a “commissioning” ceremony for EMHCs that seems odd to him (and to me).
- Another one must figure out what to do with the Children’s Liturgy of the Word.
- Yet another pastor is telling the new priest that he’s no longer “allowed” to hang out with seminarians, and that he should only befriend priests and certain select laypeople that the pastor has picked out!
I’ve also been in contact with a couple older priests who are concerned that, in this time when liberals (read “fascists”) have the Big Mo, the younger guys who grew up in the time of John Paul II and who tried their vocations during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, are worried about the younger men, who’ve had a relatively easy time of it. As a matter of fact, with one of my priest friends I have spoken about this often.
In the bad old days, when seminaries were rife with heretical teaching, banal preaching, and bizarre liturgical experimentation, newly ordained priests developed a pretty thick hide for craziness. For many, their first assignment seemed like a breath of fresh air, since they were no longer under the close scrutiny of a staff rabidly seeking out any semblance of orthodoxy or tradition. Even if the pastor was liberal and the parish music program was stuck in a jingle jangle morning of adulterated folk music, the freedom of being out of the seminary made the zaniness tolerable by comparison.