An Encouraging Word — A priest is nothing without his people

The Lord has done marvelous things for us! Psalm 126:3

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

Tomorrow I will celebrate my 44th anniversary as a priest. I can’t believe I was ordained in the first place, but I find it even harder to believe that I am still going!

What am I most grateful for? Simply put, I am most grateful for the wonderful people I have encountered and who have inspired me throughout those years!

At the top of my list is my family. I know I love my family and I am confident that they love me. We get along, and for that I am grateful. They treat me extremely well, but they don’t treat me as special, but as an equal. To them, I am just Ronnie! I like that. My good relationship with them has worked, I believe, because I have never tried to be their priest, but simply their brother. They have other priests who can pastor them.

Next are the faithful parishioners who have loved me and cared for me and nourished my faith over the years. Among them are the people of St. Mildred in Somerset, Ky., who got me started; the people of St. Peter in Monticello, Ky., and Good Shepherd in Whitley City, Ky., who were patient with me when I tried my wings as a young pastor; and the wonderful people of Calvary, Ky., who took me in as one of their family members and with whom I had so much fun.

Also on the list are the people of the Cathedral of the Assumption who taught me how filled with faith people on the margins actually are, and how generously they respond once they feel they are loved by the church and welcomed home. And there are the college students and seminarians who constantly teach me about the great promise of young faith.
I am grateful for the hundreds of Catholics who turned out night after night to attend my parish missions. I am grateful for the thousands of weekly readers of my column, “An Encouraging Word,” in The Record.

I cannot express enough gratitude for the young non-Catholic adults who went backpacking with me five times to Taize when I was at Somerset Community College; the faithful and dedicated students who come to Mass and perform ministries under the direction of Melanie-Prejean Sullivan and Karen Shadel.

There is no way I can express my gratitude to the monks, seminarians and priest participants in our ongoing formation programs from all over the world. They teach me every day how courageous they are for coming here and how truly “catholic” our church has become.

I am grateful for the babies I have baptized, the couples I have married, the faithful people I have buried. I am grateful to share in what one reporter said about Pope Francis: “the scandal of the ordinary,” the opportunity to live in a normal house with regular neighbors, doing my own laundry, shopping and cleaning.

Priesthood anniversaries remind me that a priest is nothing, without his people.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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