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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Blessing of Friends

   I thought that I would take a different turn in my blog posting and give you another glimpse into my life.  As a Franciscan Friar community life is vitally important to me. As important as it is it is also important to have friends outside of the community, friends who are not priests and religious.  In my case I want friends who while respecting the fact that I am a friar are also people who can be real with me and keep me grounded.  I have been blessed with such friends throughout the course of my life.

   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.

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