Yesterday's post about praying for your priests brought a comment (I don't get many of them) from someone with the moniker "tinkerbell" who asked - "Do any of our priests need more than just our prayers? I always wonder if those without family have been adopted by parishioners, especially during the holidays?"
I would like to affirm from my experiences that there are many good and generous people out there - parishioners and friends - who do care for their priests in a multitude of way in addition to prayer.
First, though, I must tell you of a longtime prayer partner of mine who "adopted" me years ago and prays for me daily and shares her wishes and Christian love through greetings at the holidays. She is a Carmelite Tertiary (Third Order member) from North Huntingdon who, at the invitation of her group, selected me as her prayer companion. I will withhold her name (she would be embarrassed to be identified) but not my deep and abiding gratitude for her faithfulness in prayer and her love for priests.
Secondly I also acknowledge the countless people who are friends and who remember me in their thoughts and prayers. This is not just a generic thing, but a personal spiritual friendship that sustains my priesthood.
Third, there are so many kindnesses shown to priests in a variety of concrete ways, from invitations to people's homes to gifts to picking up the tab for dinner (it happened on New Year's day at Bob Evans by a young man that knew I was a priest). We are blessed beyond our deserving.
And fourth, in my experiences, I have often found generous people who are there in my need. In Belle Vernon there was a family whose home I could stop by without an invitation to visit (and to get a great lunch as well as a relaxing visit). There was a family in Scottdale when I was there as an assistant, when things were tough at the rectory, who made me feel at home at almost anytime. I spent many hours watching TV with them and simply "chilling out". I think (I hope) most priests can recount similar experiences. And I have spoken of Dolfi's restaurant in Masontown whose the owner, Greg, and staff took good care of me as we developed great friendships ... many a long hour, much great food, rich conversations and verbal jousting, and awesome memories.
So to answer "tinkerbell", people do respond to our needs, they care about their priests, because the Church is full of good and kind friends.