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To Honor Our Clergy and Sacred Vocations

In the upcoming month of June the Polish National Catholic Church celebrates Sacred Vocations Month.  In particular this should be a time of year in which all Polish National Catholics consider the importance of the clergy within the Church and also how that importance extends to our everyday life.  Within the Catechism, there is unfortunately only one question that deals with the relationship of the average person to the priests.  The question asks: “How should we honor our priests?”  With the answer given: “We should honor our priests: 1) by giving them due respect and cooperation, 2) by praying for them, and 3) by asking God to give His Church holy and worthy priests.”

While this answer may seem quite plain on its face, we can certainly give this more reflection.  In looking up the verb “to honor” there are two definitions and it would do us well to consider both of them in regards to honoring our clergy.  The more basic definition is to “regard with respect.”  Certainly this must be a part of how we consider the clergy of our Holy Church.  If we give some thought to the journey that a clergyman takes within the Church we see that often it has been a journey of sacrifice.  Whether they enter the priesthood or diaconate at a young or older age, the man with a vocation is placing himself under the jurisdiction and oversight of others who will guide his way and sometimes even make decisions about his life.  He devotes himself to years of study, not only to learn the liturgy and theology that is necessary to preach and teach the faith and celebrate the liturgy, but he also spends time in learning how to care for others, how to bring to the children of God the healing and comforting presence of God, whether in the sacraments or within his pastoral counseling.

The pastor of a parish, after being assigned by his bishop, will commit himself to the people of his parish and to their well-being and growth in the knowledge and love of God.  He becomes a spiritual father, a friend, a confidant, a confessor, a healer who is available to each and every member of his parish whenever he is needed or called upon.  He strives to anticipate the needs of his parishioners and community and then fulfill these needs as best he can, working together with the other members of the parish.

Our clergy, bishops, priests and deacons, give of themselves as they join with their parishioners in times of joy and times of sorrow.  They share in the moments of joy when families gather for the birth and baptism of a new child of God or the joining of two lives in the Sacrament of Matrimony.  They are there to comfort us in times of sickness when we or our loves ones are in the hospital and they are a source of strength at the worst of times like the death of a loved one.  We must also remember that in their visitations to those who are sick and homebound, they are often the only source of comfort and friendship to some who are all alone and without family.

Certainly the clergy of our Holy Church have given very much of themselves to better the lives of the membership of our parishes.  But in fact it often goes beyond this.  If the priest or deacon has a family, then his wife and children are also a part of the sacrifice that is made for the betterment of the parish.

Certainly there are many times when family plans are set aside or canceled because of the needs of the parish or a parishioner.  Many of the wives and children of priests and deacons play active roles within the parish and its societies and give of themselves in the many activities of the parish and its role in the community.  And this is done without remuneration but rather for the love of serving God and His people and the love they have for the clergy.

Now certainly we should honor our clergy for the sacrifice that they continue to make for the cause of the Church and especially for our sakes, but also there is another definition of “honor” that we might think of as well.  To “honor” a thing can also mean to fulfill or keep it, such as to honor an agreement or an obligation.

We know that our clergy have accepted an obligation.  They did so on the day of their ordination, vowing to obey their bishop and his successors in matters of faith, morals and discipline, but they also accept an obligation towards their parish when they are installed as pastor.  In the rite of the Installation of a Pastor, the new installed pastor prays: “Good Lord and Savior, be with me in the fulfilling of my duties as Pastor.  Bless me and strengthen me in my work.  O Lord and my God, give me strength of body and soul, enlighten my mind with the light of Your Holy Spirit, that I may fulfill all pastoral duties for Your greater glory and for the spiritual benefit of those people entrusted to my care.  Make me a worthy instrument in bringing Your people to salvation.  Grant that I may faithfully administer Your Holy Sacraments, and through my life and teaching be an example worthy of Your Holy Priesthood.  Be always with me, O Almighty God, one in the Blessed Trinity.”

We see in this prayer the many obligations that a pastor takes on in regards to his parish.  He promises to be a good example to the flock which is entrusted to him, to be strong in body (the moral life) and soul (the spiritual life).  He promises to do all for the spiritual benefit of those entrusted to his care.  But we also know that agreements all have two sides.  In what ways are the parishioners of a parish obligated toward their clergy?  Now certainly there are the obligations that are set forth within the reports of the Clergy and Salary Benefits Commission, but is this how far it goes?  Are we not in many ways to honor these men who have given of themselves, sacrificed much and asked their families to join in this sacrifice?  Certainly we must!

It was for this reason that the Supreme Council in their yearly discussion of the clergy of the Church and also in looking at the lack of Sacred Vocations within the Polish National Catholic Church decided to set aside a weekend, this year June 2-3, 2018, for each parish of the Church to honor their clergy.  They decided that the first Sunday in the month of June to be celebrated in conjunction with Sacred Vocations Month within the Polish National Catholic Church will be Clergy Appreciation Weekend.  Attached to this article is a number of ways in which a parish, a society or an individual might show their appreciation and love to the deacons, priests and bishops of the Church.

My dear brothers and sisters, members of our Holy Church, it is certainly my wish and prayer that every clergyman will feel that he is cherished and appreciated, not only by those in leadership, but by all of us who have received so much from their hands and through their ministry.  I also pray that their families will know how much we appreciate that the wives and children share their clergyman with all of the rest of us.  During this Clergy Appreciation Weekend, throughout the Sacred Vocations Month of June and even beyond, let’s make sure that they know it.  Let’s take some time and make some sacrifices, to show our thanks for those who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

Ideas for Clergy Appreciation Weekend: (And this is just the beginning that can get us all thinking about many other ways)

  1. Special church bulletin
  2. Church bulletin insert/handout (use pictures)
  3. Church sign (Thank you Father, Bishop, Deacon _____ )
  4. Newspaper advertising (We love Father ___)
  5. Deliver a complete meal to the rectory.
  6. Present a bouquet of flowers to his wife.
  7. Prepare homemade candy for the family.
  8. Deliver a fruit basket or a giant bag of specialty popcorn for the entire family to enjoy.
  9. Phone in an order for delivered pizza and soft drinks for the family (and be sure to prepay the bill!).
  10. Drop off cookies, cakes, and cards throughout the day.
  11. Youth Appreciation Pizza Party
  12. Ladies’ Appreciation Tea
  13. Men’s Appreciation Steak Dinner
  14. Family Festival Night
  15. Family Prayer for the Pastor
  16. Give your priest and bishop, a list of homes to which they are invited for a meal each month throughout the year.
  17. Plan a surprise paid weekend vacation for the priest’s family.
  18. Provide a free hairdresser appointment for the pastor’s wife.
  19. Present a gift certificate from a catholic goods store to the pastor.
  20. Arrange for a meal at a nice local restaurant for the pastor’s family and have it billed to the parish.
  21. Give appropriate gifts or gift certificates to the priest’s children.
  22. Purchase a decorator item for the rectory.
  23. If the pastor has out-of-town children, arrange for them to be present to participate in the celebration.
  24. Have special music for Sunday Mass.
  25. Laying on of hands during prayer
  26. Flood your pastor’s email, mailbox, text, Facebook, etc. with love and appreciation.
  27. Pick a Card……Any Card – Get some cards, index cards maybe, and use them as vouchers/coupons, that the Pastor can redeem for different things, and each card redeemed will be fulfilled.
  28. Pie or pierogi of the Month Club
  29. Pastors Encouragement Jar
  30. Stock the cupboards.
  31. Mini Vacations: all-expense paid mini vacation for your priest to a Bed & Breakfast fairly close to the rectory for a couple of days
  32. Top 10 List: based on David Letterman’s Top Ten List
  33. Dry Cleaning Gift Certificate for your bishops, priests and deacons
  34. Patio Make-over
  35. Pastor Appreciation Scrapbook
  36. Offer to babysit or ‘pet sit’.
  37. Your pastor’s favorite type of music– buy them the CD or an iTunes gift card
  38. Bring him his favorite coffee each morning.
  39. Donate to the clergy pension fund in his honor.
  40. Take their pets for a walk.
  41. Prepare a beautifully framed photo of the congregation. Use extra wide matting and ask every parishioner to sign the mat before adding glass.
  42. And importantly, pray for your pastor, really pray for him and also let him know that you do.

 

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1006 Pittston Avenue, Scranton, PA 18505
Phone: (570) 346-9131
Website: http://www.pncc.org
Email: info@pncc.org