In a class project, the pupils at St Anthony’s Pahiatua, drew up what qualities they would want in a parish priest.
They then asked their parish priest about his life, his interests, what he did in his spare time etc.
The information was collated and put onto posters (pictured right) which were displayed in the school for all to see and then taken to the church so that parents and grandparents might be able to see how their children saw the priest these days.
A totally different picture emerged from the posters as to what was relevant to the various groups.
Such things as being true to God, respecting the church, being good with children, being reliable, a good listener, and able to speak well in public, having a sense of humour, being open-minded, down to earth, with a good personality, and patient with people, being consistent in keeping promises, able to keep secrets, sing well, with good self-confidence, and never forgetting who he is doing all these priestly things for.
This highlights aspects some of us may not have thought about. It means that the priest is to be ‘people-orientated’.
In deciding how we re-organise our parishes and dioceses, priests need to have that time necessary to be fresh and available for people and not rushed and harried by irrelevant calls and requests.
Perhaps a better view of what we expect from a priest might encourage more to offer themelves for this vocation. Are we ready to modify our views and demands to accept this different viewpoint and concept of being a priest?