I’m Wendy. My priest’s name is Craig. Forgive the long story, but I don’t know how to understand my priest. His behaviour is odd, and it’s ripping me up inside.

Let me start by saying that this has been a horrible year for me! In the same month, I had a tumour on my neck, my mother went into kidney failure, and my 67 year old boss was constantly harassing me, and threatening to fire me, so she could afford to keep her 35 year old boyfriend in the company. He just got out of rehab, and hasn’t been employed a year. He went to rehab after working at my company just one week, when he showed up at work drunk. My boss sent him to rehab for three months, then brought him back to the company, where he took my promised promotion. We were in a deficit, and could not afford him, so now all of a sudden, she was finding all kinds of flaws in my work, while he is paid literally just to sit around, and be her boyfriend. On July 4th, she finally got rid of me. My point of all this, is that this year has been misery, and my priest was like a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

He came to my parish as a parochial vicar in 2014. To be honest, I did not like him. I had a private meeting with him to ask a question about a dilemma I was facing. He was rude, and sarcastic. I thanked him for his time, and left.

After that, he’d say hi to me in church. I’d nod politely. I’m the shy type, so I’m not good with eye contact. In 2015, my mother was hospitalised in ICU. (We live together, because of her many health problems. She rarely goes to church.) Father came to visit her. It was their first time meeting. She told him that I went to his church. When she said my name, he said, “Oh yes. She’s the pretty dark-haired girl who sits in the front row.”

After that, he approached me CONSTANTLY in church. He’d ask me how my mother was. When it was time to give the sign of peace, he’d step off the altar, and shake my hand. During the procession when mass was ending, he’d stop, and ask me how she was. He even knelt beside me during Adoration, and asked. That shocked me, because Adoration is done in silence. He started calling the house a lot, and coming over to the house. He wanted to give my mother Communion. I remember thinking that I misjudged him. He was a nice guy after all.

This behaviour continued until summer of 2016, when I came to church 10 minutes late. He gave me a dirty look, and kept his eyes closed during most of the service. When it came time to give the sign of peace, he never came over, like he usually did. Was he really that mad about me being late for church? The next week, I was on time. He was still cold. He would be all laughter, and smiles towards everyone else, then his face would change when he saw me. He looked at me like he hated me, or would just close his eyes. This went on for a month. Mom told me that it was my imagination. That following Sunday, there were two priests. The pastoral vicar proceeded out the front door, I left out the side door, like I always do. To my surprise, there was Father holding the door open as the parishioners exited. There were just three parishioners in front of me, and no one was behind me. I saw him smile, and shake the parishioners hands. He would joke with them, and ask them questions. This for me, was the moment of truth. How he reacted when I walked out that door, would tell me whether or not I was imagining things. Sure enough, the second he saw me, his face changed. He looked straight ahead as if he didn’t see me. I said goodbye to him, and he didn’t even acknowledge me. Just looked straight ahead.

Months went by, and my church attendance dwindled. It wasn’t really because of him. Things regrettably, got in the way. And yes, my faith was (and still is) on the decline. Last November, a gland that was swollen on my neck since the summer, got bigger, and was throbbing. It turned out to be a tumour. During that period, to my shock there was a knock at the door, and it was Father. I hadn’t seen him in months. Unfortunately, Mom and I were both sick, and improperly dressed so we did not answer the door. It surprised me though.

This January, besides my tumour, my mother went into kidney failure, and my boss started harassing me. I went to another church in town because they were having confession that day. I wanted to return to God. To my surprise, I heard Father’s voice in the confessional. It turns out that during the period when I was missing church, the older priests either retired, or transferred, so Father became the parochial vicar of 5 parishes! During confession, he was so compassionate, and understanding. He visited my mother when she was in the ICU. I decided to ask him for an anointing on my tumour. When I came to the rectory, he was very caring. The only thing I thought was odd was that he was ogling my legs. His eyes went from my feet to my legs, to my thighs, and once there, they widened, and remained transfixed. I was wearing ordinary pants. In fact, I don’t even think that I have nice legs, so that surprised me.

When he saw me in church that following Saturday, it was like old times. He was friendly, and went out of his way to say hi to me. Ten days after the anointing, I called him to tell him that a miracle happened. Out of nowhere, water started pouring out of my neck, and the tumour went down to the size of a mosquito bite. He didn’t call back. A few days later, on Ash Wednesday, I went to church. Before the service began, he came out to talk to me. I showed him the tumour, and he was surprised. He shook my hand, and went to start the service. Because I had just come home from work, I ate on the drive to the church, so I did not receive Communion. When the service ended, I lagged behind, and knelt in prayer.

After the miracle occurred, my faith reignited, so I stared at the Tabernacle, gave thanks, and asked God to heal my mother, and to help me at my job. Father then approached me from behind, and asked me if I had wanted Communion. I explained to him why I didn’t take it. He told me that an hour had gone by, and it was okay for me to take it. He went to the sacristy behind the altar, and gave me some. It was at that moment that I started to get feelings for him. I thought about him constantly, but I didn’t act on it. He’s 14 years older than I am, but he seemed to be the perfect man. That weekend I was out of town, so I didn’t go to Mass. Monday, when I went to work, my boss brought me into her office, and ordered me to go into therapy, or she would fire me. Her boyfriend said that I was creating a hostile work environment by interrupting his recording sessions by tapping on my watch (I don’t even wear a watch.), and by asking if I could go in there. I told her that I’d hardly call that hostile, and it was in fact him who was doing that to me, and I showed her the email proving it. It was from another coworker telling him not to interrupt me during recording sessions. My boss remained unmoved, and forced me to go into therapy. I was furious! During Lent, the church had Adoration. After work, I went straight to Church, and I cried to the Eucharist. All of a sudden, Father came in. He gave me the warmest smile. Suddenly my pain seemed bearable. That following Tuesday, the church also had evening Mass during Lent. I went. When Mass ended, Father left behind the altar. I stayed, and knelt down begging God to help me with my problems. There was the parochial vicar, and some other people still in church. Suddenly from behind the altar, Father comes out, and says, “Has it been an hour yet?” It was only a 30 minute Mass, and I ate on the car ride over, so I told him no. He laughed. I was sitting in the front pew, and there was a barrier in front of it. He knelt against it, and said that he would give me a blessing, instead. He touched my head. He asked me how my tumor was. He also said that he wanted to see it. I moved my hair from my neck, and showed him. He also asked me when I’d know the results of my MRI. I answered him.

His voice then took on a more seductive tone. He was whispering. “It was wonderful seeing you the other night in Adoration. It’s a great place to meditate, and receive peace.” He started looking at my hands which were folded in prayer. He stared into my eyes, and smiled. He had a dreamy expression on his face. We kept staring at each other smiling. This may seem weird, but it felt like an electrical current had passed from him into me. I had a feeling something was about to happen; like he was going to kiss me, or something. It scared me, so I rapidly turned my head away from him. Still dreamy-eyed, he whispered, “Bless you!” He told me that he had to go. He gave me the most seductive smile,waved goodbye, and went back behind the altar. I went home in a daze. I knew at that moment, that it wasn’t just my imagination, or wishful thinking. Father wanted me. I told Mom about it when I got home. She warned me to be careful.

That Friday, when I went to work, the boss gave me another written warning threatening to fire me, if I did not stop “creating a hostile work environment”. I had been recording notes into my cellphone, and her boyfriend said that it was making him uncomfortable, because he didn’t know why I was doing it. It was notes about recording the news, sports, and weather. She said that if she had to write me up one more time, I’d be fired.

That Sunday evening, I called a coworker while he was at work, to ask him a question. He answered, then told me, “Crazy stuff is going on here at work. There are men sitting downstairs with guns. They said that the boss told them to come. They’ve been here the past three nights!” I worked on an Indian Reservation, and they have their own government agencies, and some of them do carry guns.

This was too much! I hadn’t told the priest about my problems at work, but I called him up, and left a voice mail, asking if I could use the church after hours to just sit, and pray. I told him about what was going on at work. The doors lock automatically, so locking up wouldn’t be an issue. There was no return call, so I decided to pray in the Church parking lot. I just wanted to be as close as I could to the Eucharist. Well, when I got to the parking lot, I saw that the Church was all lit up, and there were cars, everywhere. I felt that God had answered my prayers. Thinking it was a Mass, I rushed inside, and took a seat. It turned out to be a confirmation class. I was embarrassed, but I just continued to kneel, and pray. When class was over, and he greeted everyone as they left the church, I heard him ask the parochial vicar if everyone in the church was gone.

I took that as a sign that he didn’t want me there, so I started to leave, when he stopped me. I told him what was going on at work. To my horror, he was rude, and condescending. He told me I could stay after if I wanted, but I was so embarrassed, I just left. After that, he was mean to me. He’d look at me, and roll his eyes. He’d get angry if I stayed after Mass to pray. He even yelled at me. I would just ignore him, and continue praying. Lots of people come to church when it’s empty to pray. Why did he care so much what I did? He could just sit in the rectory, and ignore me.

So Father wouldn’t feel uncomfortable around me, I asked a male coworker to come to church with me. Maybe then Father would feel relief, and stop being so awkward around me. Of course, my coworker saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. He kept touching me, hugging me, and putting his arm around me. I politely asked him to stop. To my surprise, Father was jealous! He said the Mass with tears in his eyes. He actually sat on the altar, and buried his head in his hands. He was stumbling, and losing his place while he read. When Mass ended, he nodded to my coworker, then hung his head as he left the church. He did not greet anyone. I felt terrible.
He treated me worse after that. Finally, on Good Friday, when the church was empty, I told Father that I wanted the other Priest to perform a blessing on me for the results on my tumor were not as optimistic as I had hoped. They were inconclusive (still are), but the doctor didn’t like the looks of my MRI. He told me that the other priest was at the rectory. I hesitated, then said, “I’d ask you to do it, but you hate me.”

He gave me a look of shock, then said, “I don’t hate you. Why do you think that?”
I then proceeded to tell him everything. He denied doing it. He then changed the subject by saying, “This is the most eye contact I ever made with you! Usually when I talk to you, you look at the floor. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.” Still looking him in the eye, I shook my head to tell him no. He smiled, and said, “This is nice.” He then gave me a blessing, and I left. I thought everything was good, but the eye rolls continued. A few months ago, one of his employees asked me to volunteer at the church. I told her that I get on Father’s nerves, so I’d rather not. Well, I didn’t know that he’d come walking by right after I said that. She pulled him aside. They both looked at me, and started talking. They talked for quite a while. He then gave me the dirtiest look, and left. It was the other priest’s turn to do Mass that day.

A week later, as I was leaving Mass, he pulled me aside, and told me how it bothered him that I thought he didn’t like me. He said that he felt no ill-will towards me, he liked having me there, and he was sorry. I just stood there, and listened. I was going to argue with him. He then put his hand out for me. I thought he wanted to shake it, but he just held it for a good 30 seconds. He let go, and started to walk away. I stopped him, and told him that on Monday, my mother was going to be tested to see if she qualified to get a kidney transplant, and I wanted to donate one to her. He offered to come over and anoint her. He came over for the first time in a while, and anointed her, and yes, he ogled my legs again. And no I was not dressed seductively.

After coming home from the days of numerous tests which we still don’t have an answer for, I went back to work to discover that I was fired. I didn’t bother to tell my priest. I still don’t know how to take him. In church, he’ll say hi, but part of me wonders if it’s just to save face, because his employee talked to him about what I said about getting on his nerves. He still closes his eyes when he sees me in church. He treats no one else this way, because I look. Everyone thinks he’s nice, warm, and charismatic. I used to think so, too. I’m uncomfortable going to church now. Yesterday, was a holy day, and I almost didn’t go to Mass out of fear of what the priest would think. I then realized that I was putting the priest before God, so I went to church in spite of him. He saw me, rolled his eyes, then kept them closed for the rest of the service. It’s hurtful. He’s the pastor of five churches, so I can’t really get away from him. I believe that love is the most Christian act of all, and if mandatory celibacy is causing you to neglect, and even be mean to your female parishioners, and make them feel too uncomfortable to even go to Mass, then it’s not creating a holy service to God. I fell in love with him, but never acted on it. Never even told him about it. I rarely even look at him. I just leave church every week with a hole in my heart.

Readers: Wendy is asking for guidance. She’s asking other woman what they did in such situation. Please give your feedback as it might help a lot. Thanks.

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