God rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2
Next Monday, we will celebrate Labor Day. I always thought it odd that very few people labor on Labor Day … but I digress.
Another oddity is the perception that many people have about priests and work, summed up in a Denis the Menace cartoon that I saved.
Denis is looking at a priest sitting in a chair during a “home visit.” In the caption Denis asks, “What do you do the rest of the week?” It is about as insulting as asking a stay-at-home Mom, “Do you have a job?”
Have I had a “real” job? Certainly! I have done farm work (I can milk a cow, kill chickens, plant tobacco and load pigs), done my share of raising a vegetable garden and helped with canning and freezing.
I have loaded and unloaded concrete blocks, drywall, lumber and every other type of building materials. I have worked loading trucks at a local pickle factory.
I have been a house painter outside Chicago. At the old St. Joseph Infirmary, I mowed grass, took my turn at the information desk, helped in the medical library and served as an orderly in the emergency room.
During the summer of 1968, I worked in Crater Lake National Park. I drove a garbage truck, tended bar and served as a wine steward. I worked at the front desk in the lodge and served as the master of ceremonies at the Miss Crater Lake Beauty Pageant. I led, and preached at, two generic Protestant campground services each weekend.
I have been a home missionary, country pastor, cathedral pastor, vocation director and staff member and department head at St. Meinrad Seminary.
I have presented more than 75 parish missions, led more than 100 priest retreats/convocations, written a weekly column for this paper for 15 years and published more than 30 books. I am about to make my seventh mission trip to the Caribbean.
Many of my brother priests work harder than I do. Some of them, “retired,” are working very hard covering more and more parishes. Others are running diocesan offices, as well as serving as pastors of very large parishes. A few of them even take care of elderly parents.
As I travel speaking to priests, especially in Canada and the United States, I realize how hard many priests work. I remember meeting an 80-year-old priest in Minnesota with an eye patch covering his blind left eye.
He took care of three parishes, two hours apart, by living in a camper on the bed of his pick-up truck.
Recently in Montana, I met several priests who regularly drive five or more hours one-way to attend meetings including the retreat I led. A majority were serving multiple parishes.
“What do you do the rest of the week?” Are you kidding me? Most priests I know work very hard, including some of our retired priests. Those who predict the future are saying that priests will be working even harder going forward.
Labor Day is not a holy day so I hope our busy priests will join their busy parishioners in a day of rest.
To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog: FatherKnott.com.