The Deacon's Bench

That’s the title of a stem-winder of a rant that is must reading for anyone involved in parish life.

It was prompted by this post, wherein the blogger notes a sad state of affairs:

Lately I’ve taken to reading the obituaries and I’ve noted how many people seem to have no church burials or services – simply funeral home visitations and burials – no mention of church at all. I think I know at least one reason why.

Read the whole post and you’ll get a grim picture of an unsavory aspect of parish life.

Which led to the observation here: a good priest is hard to find:

Heck, a PRIEST can be hard to find.

I “do process” for a living but there are times you just need flexibility around the process so you can just jump to the terminator.

Death and serious illness are one of those times.

We all know of instances, maybe it happened to you, where you need a priest for a Sacrament and you can’t get to him.

I’ve ranted before about how messed up I think it is that priests live “off campus”. I can understand it, somewhat, if there is no Rectory or if Father is assigned to multiple parishes and for obvious reasons can only live on the grounds of one.

There is too much of an effort these days to give lay people more control over the administration of the sacraments then they should. There is a huge difference between a parish administrator role and the priest. The parish administrator or business adminstrator or office secretary should not be controlling access to Father to the point that they are, in essence, stonewalling people under the guide of “not wanting to bother Father with more stuff”

For instance, and this has loooong been a source of anger for me, you want FATHER to visit a loved one in the home or in the hospital or in the nursing home and the immediate response of the ‘gatekeeper’ in the parish is: “I’ll send one of our LAY ministers” There are times where, I’m sorry, I just don’t WANT a lay minister. I want a PRIEST. I get even more furious if they continue on and get down to it: “Father doesn’t DO those types of calls” WTH?

Call me suspicious. Ok, yes, I am. But, I always wonder if Father is locked up in the basement closet while the lay people run amok in the office? I wonder if Father was actually ever even consulted on this push to force lay ministers on as much as possible or that’s what the parish (read: lay people in charge) have always “done”.

We’ve probably all know (well, I do) of priests who are surprised to hear that people can’t access him when he’s needed because Father had no idea the office was pushing folks away from him. Father ends up giving his cell phone number and PERSONAL email address out so people can bypass the “office”. Is that acceptable? It’s ridiculous.

In my opinion, the authority in the parish, the last word, the COO, is the pastor. God is the CEO and ultimate word. The pretenders can all go home. I know it’s harsh. There it is.

Okay. What do you think? Discuss.

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