Priesthood community and McDonalds
Yesterday I was getting my oil changed in my car. To pass the time walked down to McDonalds to eat breakfast. A brother priest also came in and I brought up the topic of community.
We had a nice talk about the diocesan priesthood and community. I mentioned my ideas about diocesan priests living in a community. He responded that religious priests live in a community. That for a religious priest community comes first than their work comes second. The diocesan priest is meant to give himself fully to his people without benefit of a community.
I responded do we not all need a community? He responded, “Yes, but” The diocesan priest needs to go wherever the bishop needs him. That means in many cases living alone. The religious priest makes a commitment to community so they seek to live a common life. If a diocesan priest seeks a community the advice is given, well go out and seek a religious community.
Does a diocesan priest need to become a religious to find a community? Is there a way for diocesan priests to live in a community? What is meant to be the primary community for a priest?
I said that a priest primary community is meant to be brother priests, he responded that is what we learned in the seminary.
A seminarian might have whiplash going from the seminary to his first parish. In the seminary that is great emphasis on community, common prayer meals, retreats. The seminarian might be surprised that he finds himself living alone in his first parish.
Question, What does a priest do if he finds himself living alone? Where is he to find his community?
What are the dangers if the diocesan priest seeks to find his community primarily among the laity? From my point of view many priests are afraid of crossing boundaries among the laity they find safety in living alone. In the new world of the sexual abuse crisis that has hit the church many priests feel safer living alone.
It is true that for the diocesan priest is called to obedience to his bishop but this doesn’t have to be at the expense of community.