Sep
26

Don’t preach “the devil’s homily”!

It's not always easy to love your enemies, but it is always the right thing to do.

In every parish (even the dream ones), there are going to be people whom it is hard to love.  Like flies that get into the car when you take your garbage to the dump, their words and actions will continue annoying you long after you've left their physical presence.  Sometimes it can get so bad that your mind will actually create imaginary conversations so that these alleged "scribes and pharisees" can anger and tempt you with Read more…

Sep
15

Living in the Rectory – some pros and cons

This is humble rectory at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Woonsocket, RI.  The church building is to the left and the hall is behind it.  The back portion of the rectory contains classrooms, the parish office, and an apartment.

As a new priest, the first piece of advice many experienced priests have given me is to buy my own house.  We live in the rectory and, while it does bring challenges, we have found it to be rewarding for the parish, my family, and my ministry.  From the stories I have gathered, it seems that when rectory life goes well it is pretty good ... but when it goes poorly it is really, really, REALLY bad.  I am a "late vocation" priest and we Read more…

Sep
05

When Fire Strikes: some lessons learned

From the ceiling: the ceiling on each side of the icon was destroyed; St. Michael was not.

Two years ago, during the pre-dawn hours of the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the parish of St. Michael in Woonsocket (UOC-USA) suffered from a terrible fire. It got up into the rafters and destroyed the roof. It was only due to the bravery and proficiency of the firefighters that it was kept from being a complete loss. Through your prayers, the intercession of our patron and all the saints, and the grace of God, we hope to begin Read more…

Jul
09

Autopsy of a Burned-Out Pastor: 13 Lessons

Flickr/Scallop Holden

Another short gem from Thom Rainer, this one based on his "autopsies" of pastors whose ministries - and persons - were rendered "mission incapable" by their inability to cope with the cumulative pressures of parish life.  Please note that only two of the factors: serving dysfunctional parishes and being poorly remunerated (and possibly #9, failure to take a sabbatical) are under the direct control OF THE PASTOR.  This is not to say that Read more…

Jul
01

The One-Term Curse (and how to avoid it)

A lame duck president finds it hard to lead - mores the pastor!  Image from http://accentoninterpreting.blogspot.com

In this essay, Thom Rainer describes a parish phenomenon that is all too common among pastors: the three year tenure.  I grew up in a tradition - Methodism - that had institutionalized a four year rotational schedule for its ministers.  While short tenures have some benefits, they do not allow for the development of the kind of relationships and trust that should exist between Orthodox priests and the people they serve.  One of my Read more…

Mar
30

Priests, you don’t have to like your parish either

Slide1

In my post, “You Don’t Have to Like Your Priest”, I built on Brother Patrick’s essay to describe some of the reasons that people don’t like their Orthodox priests, making the general point that all of his foibles pale in comparison to the One Thing Needful which He serves and shares. Another dynamic of this relationship is the attitude of the priest towards the people he serves. Sometimes priests have a hard time liking them, Read more…

Mar
19

You Don’t Have to Like Your Priest

Chapter Seven of Fr. David's book has a chapter on how to relate to your priest: he uses the models of Lawyer, Doctor, Teacher, Artist, and Manager to help.

A reader recommended Brother Patrick Mary Briscoe's article "You Don't have to Like Your priest" (published on March 7, 2014 at Dominicana)   It is an excellent article and I recommend it, too.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery.  The following is patterned on Brother Patrick's essay.  Why do I like it?  I know that my parishioners struggle with this; not only have they benefitted from the service of saintly priests, their own Read more…