How often have you gotten to the end of the day and been totally exhausted and unfulfilled? You’re tired, but not because you spent time counseling a couple preparing for marriage, or because you spent an hour in the confessional after several pastoral visits, or because you visited the parish school and had to dominate on the basketball court. You’re tired because in between each of those personal moments of encounter so many tiny logistical and administrative things had to be taken care of that you know you weren’t as present as you could have and should have been.
It’s easy, especially while in seminary, to idealize the life of priestly ministry. You think about the beauty of freeing souls from sin in confession, you think about the joy on kids’ faces when they receive their first communion, you think about comforting a family grieving the passing of a loved one. You don’t think about the hours spent trying to find directions to the right hospital to visit the right person, or the time wasted trying to figure out which couple in marriage prep still needs to turn in what questionnaires. The truth is, a significant amount of time of priestly life is spent going over spreadsheets and tracking down the basic information that allows ministry to happen, and it’s burning priests out.
No one becomes a priest because they love Microsoft Excel or want to hound a family over funeral arrangements. No one dreams about getting lost because you have bad directions to a homebound parishioners house. However, these are too often the harsh realities of parish life, and as we have less priests with more work, these realities are only becoming more widespread. All of this logistical work and tiny frustrations inevitably build up and lead to frustrated priests who, no matter how well intentioned they are, are simply exhausted and unable to provide the kind of pastoral care they intended to when they were ordained a priest. This has to change, and it can change.
As we mentioned in the last blog, there has been so much focus on the “new” in the New Evangelization that we have forgotten our roots. Here at Pastoral Parish, we don’t believe you need another new formation program, or a new leadership program, or a new brand. We believe priests and parishes simply need help in carrying out their most fundamental purpose: administering the Sacraments.
So many of the logistical and administrative frustrations that lead to burnout can be removed by simply using basic tech that has been available for years. No more getting lost on pastoral visits, no more nagging couples in marriage prep to get their paperwork in, no more lost time searching for baptismal certificates, no more repeatedly asking grieving families about what songs they want at a funeral. All of these things can be handled by a single web app, so that you can focus solely on being present and accompanying each and every person to Jesus.
The most basic part of our Catholic faith, the Sacramental life, has not changed in 2000 years. Jesus did not say, “Go out and gain more Facebook and Instagram followers.” Jesus did not say, “Go and be fishers of paperwork.” Jesus did say “Feed my sheep.” When priests are so burnt out from menial tasks that they can’t perform the function they were ordained (and intended from all eternity) to perform, the sheep starve. We are here to help priests and parishes recover their essential mission, to administer the Sacraments, so that the sheep are fed, and the shepherds end each day the right kind of tired with their purpose fulfilled.
We are here to help priests and parishes fulfill their mission of providing the Sacraments and feeding their sheep, all without burning out along the way.