A few posts ago, as you are well aware, I ripped into the bad side of the priesthood today. I thought it was balanced and decent, and I think it needs to be said: evil is evil regardless of the source. But you know what? Talk about the worst year priests have undergone since Stalin: 2009/10 - ironically, the "Year of Priests." So I owe it to all the great priests in my life to sing their praises too.
My operating premises, which in no way contradict what I said earlier:
1) On average, Catholic priests are way ahead of lay people in holiness and human decency.
2) A few rotten apples can not spoil the bunch. The problems with the priesthood are not endemic.
I want to talk about the three priests who have been the greatest priestly blessings in my life. I won't put them in any kind of order, other than from the date of my first encounter with them.
Father Joseph Hattie, OMI
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa
He just gets the value of theological education in the life of the Church. He always valued what I was trying to do, despite how hard it was to make happen. He provided me with so many opportunities to serve the Church with my mind and my heart. He makes me feel like I'm not a waste of flesh in the Body of Christ.
What these three priests have in common is a morally good life, helpfulness, naturalness, awareness of and sensitivity to the struggles that life can bring to people, and a total commitment to their life's station. I owe them much more than I could ever pay back. Their generosity to me has always been astonishing. They restore one's faith not only in the priesthood, but in humanity as well. They have all been fathers to me.