Say a prayer for us, your priests

By  Fr. Michael Payyapilly, Catholic Register Special
  • June 10, 2010

Priest in prayerEditor’s Note: As the Year for Priests comes to a close, Catholic Register reader Rappai J. Nedumpara, president of Family Prayer Mission (Ontario), shares the thoughts of a young priest whose petition from India has universal meaning.

The Catholic world is reeling under the huge storm of scandals and it pains me to see such things happening. One person went to the extent of saying that “I don’t feel like going to Church any more to hear the great and lofty ideals that these people preach.”

We have reached a stage where people are thinking of giving up on the Church, and priests in general are being blamed for it. Many of us Catholics are joining this outcry. Priests are being looked at with different eyes now — eyes of suspicion, and understandably so. This hurts and pains me as I am a priest.

Yes I am ashamed, I must admit, about what has happened. A priest is supposed to be one who is trusted, at times trusted even more than one’s own parents. A priest is meant to heal and to care and when a priest fails to do that it is saddening.

At the same time I am sad that many people are suddenly changing their opinions about priests. It is a shame that the acts of a few priests are disturbing our faith in the Church and in the priesthood. But let us not forget the many priests who have made an impact on our lives even without our knowing it.

I am a priest. But I am also a son of loving parents, I am also a brother to wonderful siblings, I am an uncle to beautiful nephews and nieces. There are days when I long so much to see my parents; there are days when I would love to be with my brother and sister and their families; there are days when I want to play with my nephews and nieces. I, a priest, desire these very human things.

My brother and sister are bugged when I go to bed at midnight and get up at 4 a.m. saying that I am not getting enough sleep. How do I make them understand that I am kneeling and crying and praying for someone who has asked for my prayers? When  they see me losing weight, how do I tell them that I am fasting and praying for some mother who is crying out for her wayward son, or for a childless couple who are praying desperately for a baby to hold in their arms? When they complain that I do not come home for a family function, how do I tell them that the needs of the faithful outside my door are my first priority?

These are things that every priest struggles with. Maybe some of us don’t know that we owe a lot to these men who sacrifice so much.  

As a priest I tell the faithful: You ask us to pray for you in your time of need and for you to overcome your weaknesses in life. Today your priests are in need of your prayers.

Can you pray for them? Can you pray for all those priests who are themselves so heartbroken by all that has happened? And also for thousands of priests who have been faithful to you and to your family, giving up their own?

There are so many things about the priesthood that people do not understand — things that I, as a priest, am still learning as I take each step.
But as priests, our prayer lamp is burning for you tonight. And when you go to bed tonight, remember that somewhere a priest is kneeling and praying for you.

(Fr. Michael Payyapilly, V.C,. is the assistant director of the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor, Kerala, India.)

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