Sunday, April 29, 2012
The Blessing of Friends
I recently had the good fortune of having a visit from my friend Sharon whom I met when she and her family were parishioners in Buffalo, NY. She now lives in suburban Atlanta and is near her daughter,a son and some of her grandchildren. I know that eyebrows can raise when a priest talks about a woman friend, but friends, and nothing more, describes who we are for each other. Sharon affirms me in my vocation as priest and friar but also lets me know that I need to have a woman's perspective on life once in a while. She does that at times to my great consternation. I believe that we celibate men, though we resist it, need to have this perspective. After all 50% of the people we minister to are women. We need to be called out of the men's club once in a while. I also have good friendships with several religious sisters.
Right from the start of my friar life I have been blessed with friendships with several married couples and their families. Many readers of this blog know that I was once involved with the Marriage Encounter movement. I am a better friar and priest because of these friendships. For one thing it is easy for us celibates to look at marriage through rose-colored lenses. Spending time with families has brought me face to face with the challenges that marriage and family life presents. I am especially grateful for the fact that for many years I have been good friends with Joe and Pat, Lou and Carol, Pete and Lu and Bob (recently deceased) and Gail and with many of their children. I have been described as a kind of extra uncle. All of them are good, supportive friends, but friends who can call me on my shortcomings.
And so dear blog readers I give you a window into an important part of my life and hope that you, perhaps, might become a good friend to a priest or religious. It is a necessary blessing for us.