Seasonal Hospitality: Remember Your Priest

3 Ways to Show Appreciation for Our Shepherds

Bridget and her husband, Evan, far right, host three of their priest-friends for dinner.
Bridget and her husband, Evan, far right, host three of their priest-friends for dinner. (photo: Bridget McCartney Nohara)

Our parish priests can often become the unsung heroes of our dioceses. These fathers give of themselves humbly each day, but the demands on our priests seem to swell during the holy days and holy seasons. While many of us may enjoy time off of school or work during Christmas and New Year’s, this is when our priests are extra busy tending to us, their flocks.

Perhaps this Christmastide, you might want to give your priest some Christmas cheer. While monetary gifts are always generous, there are many other ways to give that will be deeply appreciated by the recipient. Here are a few ideas you might consider:

1. Cook/send him a meal.

It is wonderful to invite your priest into your family home for dinner, and many priests speak of how comforting it is to spend time with their parishioners. Perhaps this is a good time of year to put something on the calendar with your pastor, but it also can be a particularly busy time. As such, if you’re just thinking of this idea, you may not have your priest dining at your table until spring.

If calendars are too full, consider offering to drop off dinner at the rectory. A home-cooked meal does us all good, and between extra confessions, additional adoration times and other services happening at the church, Father may likely not have as much time to put meals together. Ask him if he has any favorites you might be able to cook up, or even offer to have his favorite takeout delivered.

If you’d like to personalize the delivery a bit, consider slipping in a few sweet Christmas treats, a letter and maybe a colored picture by your children to add a homespun touch. What better way to feed the heart and soul?

2. Participate at the parish.

Our priests go above and beyond, making themselves readily available and doing all they can to promote special events at church, especially during the big liturgical seasons. This season, consider making time in your own busy schedule to attend parish events. Keep an eye on the bulletin for extra Mass times, visiting speakers, nights of praise and adoration and additional confession slots.

There might also be some extra volunteering opportunities. If you can spare an hour (or more), sign up to decorate the church, serve a meal to the homeless, hand out bulletins, etc.There is ample work to be done, and now is a beautiful time to serve.

By participating in the events that often take more work to orchestrate than we see, we may bring encouragement and hope to our parish family, including our priests. Simultaneously, they will benefit our souls and the souls of whomever we may bring along for a spiritual “boost.”

3. Pull up a seat at Christmas dinner.

Who doesn’t enjoy Christmas cheer? If you have space at the table, consider inviting your parish priest to your family’s celebration of Christmas dinner and/or the surrounding events. This is particularly meaningful if your priest does not have family nearby. We, the parishioners, are the priest’s family, too.

Be it a grand or simple meal, inviting your priest will be a blessing to him — and you too! Pour him an eggnog or other festive beverage, pull him up a chair, and let the merriment commence.

’Tis the season of giving and the season of relishing the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Our priests bring the Person of Jesus Christ to us at every single Mass. As our way of showing gratitude, let us keep them close in prayer during this holy season, and if we are able, let us show our support and appreciation by extending a warm invitation.