One Body, Many Parts

Should the modus operandi of Married Priests be the same as that of Celibate Priests?
If and when the day comes when priests in the Latin Rite, who are already married, are called back to public ministry, it would be a courageous step on their part if their approach to pastoral work was different to what it was  when they were celibate priests.
Celibate priests do wonderful pastoral work and they touch the lives of many many people in all kinds of beautiful ways, but when and if married priests become again a reality their pastoral work priorities should be different to what they were when they were celibate priests.
Married priests should give priority to working with small groups and communities and give less time to the parish church. House to house visitation is one of the pastoral works that should be a must for them. This pastoral action can be done at the time of the day when they can meet all the members of a family and at the same time they can be on the look out for potential community leaders. My parents lived in the Parish of St. Laurence O’Toole, Seville Place, Dublin. As a young boy I can remember the parish curate visiting our home on a few occasions. I can remember him sitting in our kitchen and having a cup of tea with my parents. This visit was more important to them than all his sermons: and that was over 60 years ago.
After having visited an area for some months and working with small groups in that area reflecting with them on the Word of God and showing them how to pray with the Bible using the method of the Lectio Divina, the married priest can gather these families for a house mass. House masses can be very powerful instruments of evangelization and conversion for they show the face of a loving and caring church that goes out to people and meets them where they are.
If married priests are waiting for the day when they can once again preside over Mass in the parish church just as they did when they were celibate priests, then their influence on evangelization can be limited, their presence should be felt in other ways. If they have the missionary spirit they can be instrumental in turning a parish into a community of communities. On weekends they can be active in the parish church but during the week they should be out working in the different communities that are scattered throughout the parish. Pope Francis has called for a church that goes out to people, this call should be taken up by the married priests.
A married priest can build up a net-work of small groups and communities. He can start off with one group in a particular area of the parish and when this is working well and consolidated this group can invite people from another area and teach them how to     start off a group. Over a period of time with patience and perseverance groups will multiply. His role will be to visit these groups. Let his visits be moments of joy and life.  He should give special attention to the leaders of these groups and visit them on a different occasion so as to build up their spirits and confidence and to share with them his pastoral experience. Small communities thrive and grow when they are animated by a dynamic and committed leader: these leaders need to be nurtured by the married priest.
Most of his church work will have to take place at night as during the day he will be busy with his secular job. We all know examples   of dedicated lay men and women who after a hard day’s work find time to do church work, so the married priest won’t be any different from them when it comes to sharing his time with others. If he has the understanding of his wife and better still if she too joins him in his pastoral work then this couple can be a wonderful influence on a parish.
The maintenance and organisation of the parish church and other church property, although very necessary can be time consuming for the priest in charge and can take him away from missionary work in his parish. Married priests should not get involved in the running of these works however important they may be. If they are to make a significant contribution to the life of the church let them be more people orientated and less church buildings orientated. What we need today is more evangelization. There is a whole world out there waiting to hear the Word of God, let married priests get involved in this.
Brian  Eyre, Catholic Married Priest,  Recife, Brazil

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