What are you going to do to protect yourself against the priest shortage?
You were ready for Y2K.
You may even be ready for the Zombie apocalypse.
But are you preparing for the priest shortage?
Here are some things you might want to consider.
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES wait until the last dying breaths to call a priest to anoint someone. It is completely unnecessary and dangerous. Anointing should be done at the onset of a serious illness. There are not a dozen parochial vicars sitting around on call anymore. There are weekly stories of people calling around looking for a priest immediately and not being able to find one to come to the nursing home within the next couple of hours. It is sad because it didn’t need to be that way. Get anointed early.
Get to confession when you can. Don’t wait until a week before Easter. There are less priests and longer lines.
Say your priest is ill, there are no other priests available and getting to another parish is unreasonable. This does not mean that you are “off the hook.” What are you going to do instead? Can you look up the readings on line and study/discuss them? Pray a rosary? Make a holy hour? What plan do you have in place?
What are you doing to keep your parish a vibrant place that attracts people and makes it more necessary that a priest be assigned there? What are you doing as far as evangelization? How are you helping fill the gaps by doing such things as taking communion to the homebound?
When was the last time you actively and on your own initiative promoted a vocation? Have you suggested it to anybody? Have you told a young man that you are praying for him? Do you support and give encouragement to seminarians? If you don’t know how to support a seminarian, ask your pastor. If he says, “pray for them,” and walks away, Email me and I will tell you what you can do.
You were anointed prophet, king and priest at your baptism. It is part of your office to promote vocations. They don’t just happen out of thin air. With support of the body, the limb withers. So let us stop lamenting and start acting.