A Thank You to the Priests of Our Diocese
I knew immediately what he meant. There were a few ECUSA priests I knew in Chicago who were doctrinally orthodox and treated the liturgy with respect, but there were elements of their personal lives or their personalities that were less than admirable to me. Then there were the vast majority: the teachers of unsound doctrine, advocates/practitioners of unhealthy lifestyles, and leaders of folly-ridden worship that made up the majority of ECUSA priests I met in my six years there. There were some ECUSA priests that had been decent to me personally, but I had no desire to emulate them--or even go to them for confession. This realization brought me low. Here I was prayerfully considering a possible vocation to the priesthood, and I didn't have regular contact with a single priestly role model in Chicago!
Then I came back home to Fort Worth. Almost as soon as I got back in town the diocese held a weekend "Vocations Retreat" at Camp Crucis (near Granbury, Texas), where all the seminarians and aspirants to Holy Orders in our diocese spent three days together and heard presentations on the theology of the ministerial priesthood and the lives and ministries of Anglican priests from men who had been serving as priests for decades. It was amazing! I found myself inspired, even emotionally overcome, by the presentations. I got to spend time with senior priests in Fort Worth, worshipping with them, talking with them over meals, praying with them. I realized on the third day of the retreat that after spending six years in a place where I met not a single priest whom I truly admired, in three days I had met a dozen priests whom I did respect--deeply respect. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. I literally wept.
This is not to say that all of our priests are perfect. They are men, after all, not angels. They have their quirks like everyone else, and occassionally they come up short. But they are dedicated and sincere servants of God, sound teachers of the Faith and positive moral examples to their flocks. In the last two years I have met a dozen superb role models for aspirants and postulants. I just wanted to say, "Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and your example. Thank you for your fidelity."
The photo above is of the Renewal of Ordination Vows at the Chrism Mass held at St. Vincent's on Tuesday of Holy Week. The priests on the front row are among the most senior in our diocese. But don't be deceived--Fort Worth actually has one of the youngest Anglican presbyteries in the nation.