The month of October is widely recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month, with Sunday, October 9, set aside for Clergy Appreciation Day. The day was established in 1992; Hallmark began selling cards for it in 2002.
The Internet contains suggestions for showing appreciation to our pastors ranging from sending them a personal note of thanks, to having everyone in the parish come to Mass wearing a T-shirt proclaiming theirs the “Best Pastor Ever”, to offering them gifts of various values.
As Catholics, we owe our clergy (bishops, priests, deacons) a great debt of gratitude. These men dedicate their lives to the service of the Church, meaning they give their lives to the service of each and every one of us who make up the Church.
The list below offers just a few things members of the Catholic clergy do to serve us. Feel free to add your own reasons to give thanks:
They visit us when we are sick, counsel us when we are doubtful or in distress, encourage us when we falter, offer forgiveness and help to pick us up when we fall short of perfection, guide us when we wander, teach us when we question, and lead us toward the truth whether we want to go toward it or not.
They creatively keep the church’s physical plant going, often seemingly with little more than chewing gum and bailing wire, à la MacGyver.
They make sure there are trained professionals available to provide for our physical and spiritual well-being. They hire, train, and oversee the work of these professionals daily.
They serve as the pivot points in our parish and diocesan communities around which the communities gather. Without them, our communities would often just fade away.
They sit through seemingly never-ending, often boring meetings so our voices may be heard.
They organize, plan, cajole, plead, beg, and borrow to make sure the Church has what it needs—all so we may have worship experiences that enlighten us and challenge us to follow the Lord more faithfully.
They endure years of training, study, and scholarship so they intricately know what the Church believes and teaches, and help us to understand it at our own levels.
Finally, but most importantly, they serve as the sacramental ministers who enable us to experience Christ personally through bread and wine that become the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist; receive Christ’s forgiving and healing touch in Baptism, Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick; and witness the sacred presence of God in our lives in Confirmation and Matrimony.
I’d say we owe them a great deal of thanks.
So take the opportunity (this month especially) to tell the bishops, pastors, parochial vicars, and deacons who serve your community how much you appreciate them and the gift that they are to the Church. But don’t limit your thanks only to October. Be sure to show your appreciation in some meaningful way every month of the year.
Daniel S. Mulhall currently serves as Director of Strategic Markets for RCL Benziger. He lives in Louisville, Ky.