Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I always held the priests in high esteem. As a member of the choir and as an acolyte, not to mention being a parishioner in the pews, I respected the office of the priesthood and imagined super serious men (of course they were all men) who were far holier than me. Fast forward to adulthood and now I am a priest, and my experience of what the priesthood means is quite different.
For many, priests can be hard to get to know. Each person has their own experience with ordained leaders and some of our most formative experiences drive our adult understanding. It’s true that priests play a vital role in the life of our church. The Catechism notes that “the ministry of a priest or presbyter” is “to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to proclaim the gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God (BCP, p. 856).” At Saint Michael, we have a team of priests. When you count our part-time priests, including our Sunday assistants, we have nine! Such a large group is unusual for the Episcopal Church.
You might be surprised to know that in many churches, clergy don’t get along. Yes, it’s true that in many Episcopal churches, there can be rocky relationships between parish priests that often spill out into the congregation.
That’s why I’m so very grateful for the clergy team we have at Saint Michael! The clergy team that’s gathered to serve our church is intelligent, generous, highly capable, and a lot of fun. We actually like each other!
When the pandemic hit, I really missed seeing my clergy colleagues. When we were able to start gathering in person again, I began to schedule regular moments when we could get outside the weekly pattern of logistics meetings and focus on deepening our relationships. These moments have proven so very valuable. In addition to regular moments when the clergy gather outside a regular meeting room, I’m also hosting semi-annual parties. This fall, the clergy gathered with spouses to take a cooking class at Sur la Table and had a blast. I’ve included some pictures from the event because I know you’ll enjoy seeing the priests in their “civies.”
I am very grateful to the leaders of our parish who support the collegiality of our clergy, and I appreciate you for the kindness and love you show to all the priests here. Thank you for your continued investment and energy to make Saint Michael such a faithful community in which all of us can deepen our discipleship. And thank you for making Saint Michael such a wonderful place to do ministry together!
**This article was written by the Rev. Christopher D. Girata and was featured in the 2023 Spring Archangel.