Friday, June 5, 2009


The other day I was mired in paperwork that I really needed to get done. As the vocations director for our diocese, Fr, Gurnick, once stated, “Even if you are a miracle worker, you still have to get the paperwork in.” It was also field day at the school and the kids were out on the lawn having a ball. I wanted to go out and visit with the kids but then thought, “No, my job is getting this paperwork done before having fun like that.” Then my guardian angel reminded me, “No, you role is as a spiritual father. Your job, or rather your vocation is also going out and spending time with these children.” I was not shirking responsibility, I was fulfilling it in going out (as long as I eventually also get the paperwork done.)

This all brings us to the term, “Father.” Foxie wrote in some time back and asked about the use of this term for our clergy. I don’t intend to defend the use of the term which can be very controversial particularly in Protestant circles. If you want to find out more about that, here is a very good article with a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. The term “Father” does carry with it some symbolic meaning however.

When a couple comes in to see me for marriage and they are not chaste we have a discussion about it. I inform them that what I am telling them is not only spiritually healthy but with an aim of giving them the best chance for a successful marriage. I give them some propositions and though we will visit the topic again I am not going to police them. I am their spiritual father, not their “Daddy.” “Catholics know that as members of a parish, they have been committed to a priest’s spiritual care, thus they have great filial affection for priests and call them "father." Priests, in turn, follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their flock as "my son" or "my child" (See link above.)


Anonymous said...

What a blessing it is for us Catholics to have a spiritual father who commits himself to helping us get to heaven. Being a good father is a daunting task. I am grateful that our spiritual father does not have to divide his attention between us and his own, biological children.

Carol said...

Father, wasn't the goal of a Pastoral Council, RE director/office, secretaries, et al the very administrative entity that was supposed to free up pastors from paperwork, so they could live out their charism as minister, preacher and teacher of the sacraments-- as ordained to do? Especially in this day and age when we have to cluster and face the fact that we're looking at one priest for 3 or 10 parishes either now or in the too forseeable future, why is the paperwork only growing??

You've heard this complaint before, but back when volunteering in the food pantry, we didn't track poor people until we received USDA foods to distribute. Well, paperwork reared its ugly head, then, and actually sent OFF one poor young man who came on the *wrong* day --he was advised by a representative of Christ's church to come back after the (hungry??) weekend when so-and-so could give him food properly. I ran after him when I realized what had happened, and begged him to let me get him a bag of something to take. The pain in this eyes was.. oh, for God's sake, why do people not feed first, and think later?? He never returned. Things like this disgust me, and it's what made Jesus fling out dove-sellers and money-changers in the Temple.

Delegate, delegate, delegate (the administrative), because we need a spiritual father. We need a hands-on priest at Mass, at sacraments, in the school, in the hospital, in the nursing home, and at the graveyard.

And meanwhile, let's pray for vocations.

Foxie said...

Dear Fr. V,

thank you for responding to my email. I have thought it must have gone to spam.