Tag Archive: unchurched


I struggled even writing this, never mind trying to summarise almost 16 years of my on and off friendship with this person. I wanted to share my story to let others know that they’re not alone (because for a while, I felt very alone and as if no one could understand). If I’m being honest, I’m looking for advice and a resolution too. My name is MA and my priest is J.

I met J through a family friend; they were both attending seminary at the time. I was attending a mass for vocations and after, I went down to the church hall for refreshments. It was then that J caught my eye across the room and right away, I wanted to know: “who is HE?” I cannot tell you how silly I felt when my friend introduced him as a fellow seminarian (he was not dressed in his collar). We talked for a while and I was struck by his smile, his dimples, and his pure excitement about becoming a priest, as well as his commitment to our faith and God. Frankly, I was blown away by the sheer chemistry and energy radiating off him and between us. For the record, it was the first (and last) time someone had ever caught my eye in that way. Regardless, I didn’t think we’d ever see each other again.

The following summer, he was placed at my Mom’s church as an intern. Right away, we clicked. We often joined other parishioners for coffee, attended masses for vocations around my state, and he even met a few of my closest friends and family. At this point, I wasn’t thinking of J as anything other than a mentor of sorts, someone who I could talk about my faith with. He also seemed proud of my work in the healthcare field and we discussed helping others a lot. He shared he had been engaged prior to entering the priesthood and had needed to take a break from seminary in order to discern whether he was on the right path. J admitted he struggled with celibacy and the thought of not being a father.

By the end of that summer, we were even closer & I felt sad that I was losing my friend as he headed back to the seminary. I was also a little shocked and confused as to why he hadn’t yet asked me for my email (no cells back then!). He waited literally until minutes before leaving and heading back to ask me for my contact info. I wish I had seen the confusion I felt then for what it was— a foreshadowing of feelings that would characterize and haunt our relationship.

We continued to email at least weekly during his school year and then he started calling me at work. It happened so often, that I actually got in trouble. Not to mention, every time he called, he would say it was “Father J,” making the poor receptionist have a heart attack, thinking that something bad had happened to someone in my family. I was there for his transitional deaconate ceremony and celebrated with him after. He introduced me to his family and I became friends with some of his family members, often emailing them on a regular basis.

His last year of seminary, J. treated me much like the previous year, except our contact greatly increased. A few months before his ordination, he confided that he “wasn’t so sure he wanted to do this and that his biggest fear was getting to his mid-40’s and realizing that he wanted to be a husband and a father.” At this point, I was starting to become physically attracted to J. and finding him working his way into my thoughts more and more. I struggled between the desires of my heart, being a good Catholic and friend, and giving him unbiased advice. I tried to give the best advice I could, encouraging him to take a good, hard look at his motivations. J. basically summed it up as: “My parents want me to be a priest. Besides, what else would I do? I didn’t go to college.” At the time, he neglected to tell me he was a trained healthcare professional himself.

In the end, he followed through with being ordained and it was one of the proudest, yet hardest, days of my life (it still is). I knew how he had struggled with the academic work, his emotions, but persevered because of his strong faith. As he lied prostrate, it felt like a knife to my heart. I love my faith and God, so I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling this way. It was that very day, probably the proudest day of his life, that I realized I was in love with him. The irony was not lost on me.

J ended up in his first placement as a parochial vicar not far from where I live. He invited me to his first mass and told me that my being there helped to decrease his nerves. He also asked me to continue to attend mass there and I found no problem with this, as I was dating a man from the area and often spent my weekends there. J was aware of this and made it obvious he didn’t approve. Despite the tension that my having a significant other created, our friendship continued to strengthen and we started to create special moments together. One snowy Xmas Eve J. begged me not to leave, as he was “lonely” and estranged from some of his family at that time. I helped to advocate for a family member of his when insurance would no longer cover her chemotherapy and filled out numerous amounts of paperwork to get her additional resources. Meanwhile, my faith was growing stronger than ever, but so were my feelings for J. Looking back on it now, I find it odd how I never dreamed that he could possibly reciprocate those feelings; I was brainwashed and saw him as a priest, not a human being. A person not only who is capable of love, but might even be desiring it. It was only until J started acting funny that I questioned his intentions, but immediately dismissed them. He insisted I have a confession with him when I thought it was a conflict of interest and fought with me about not attending a pilgrimage to Italy with his church (I couldn’t afford it at the time, he offered to pay for me). After mass on a beautiful spring day, he offered to walk me to my car after we spent hours chatting and laughing after mass. A red flag went up; I found it strange because we were in a suburban, safe neighborhood, with my car tucked safely in the church parking lot, in broad daylight. However, I was used to his being courteous, and he always walked me to my car but it was always in the presence of fellow priests. I started to feel funny as I loaded my things into my car, only to turn and find him leaning against my door, in close proximity to me. I started to feel that awkwardness when a first date is ending and you don’t know if the guy is going to kiss you or not. I didn’t know if he was going to do or say something, but I knew whatever was coming would change things for both of us forever, so I literally pushed him away, said goodbye, and drove off. I remember, still to this day, seeing his face in my rearview and cried the whole way home. It was the last time I would see him for a decade. There are no words to describe how I felt that day, other than I loved him so much, I wanted to protect him. I also didn’t want to hurt God. I thought of J over the years and wondered if my gut intuition was right regarding his feelings for me and what he was going to do that day or if I totally misread the whole thing.

To make an already long story longer (kudos if you read this far), I ended up lapsing and not going to church for 6 years. I would be lying if I said my love for J wasn’t part of it. However, my faith and spirituality never faltered. It is my main coping mechanism despite chronic health issues and frankly, it’s what keeps me going. About a year ago, I started to get serious about returning to church and yearned for a place where I wouldn’t be judged, feel comfortable, and not be forced by the pastor to get involved behind the scenes in various roles (this has been an issue for me in almost every church I’ve attended). I looked up J to see where he was and found he was assigned to a parish in the same city I work. I attempted to contact him via parish email to break the ice and make it less awkward for us both if I decided to show up. Naively, I figured that so many years had passed; there would be no harm in seeing him again. I assumed he’s now an experienced pastor, that I have grown leaps and bounds and am pretty good at detecting red flags (that’s what happens folks when you’ve been dating since 15!), and that my feelings for him had leveled out because of lack of contact. I even prayed continuously and agonized over my decision. I prepared myself for seeing someone who might have changed in ways I would not appreciate, expected him to be different, even prepared myself that he might have a significant other (yes, we all know the reality). Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I’ve dealt with since my return.

He claims he never got my email message and within minutes of sitting down at my first mass there, I realized my instincts and gut feelings so many years ago were spot on. He turned pale, then beet red, stumbling over his words, hands shaking when he gave me communion, fidgeting when sitting on the altar. I have seen him drop the Eucharist once or twice and it was always the person before me in line. I cannot tell you how awful I felt, as if I was causing him to feel uncomfortable on his own turf and screw up his at his job.

I have never had a more awkward conversation, as I attempted to explain my presence to him. He couldn’t even look me in the eye and reprimanded me for disappearing all those years ago and not telling him why. I think he sees my leaving years ago as rejection, not the protection I intended. However, he never contacted me to see if everything was ok either. I was struck how emotionally immature he seemed, able to interact with parishioners quite easily, but not with me. For some reason with me it seems different; it’s hurtful and painful. J insists he “likes having me there and it’s not awkward for him,” but I don’t feel he’s being honest. There are days he’s friendly and like old J I knew, we laugh and talk with no issues. Then there are others where he ignores me and I don’t know how to act myself. I have always felt comfortable talking to a wide range of people, especially males; I am a tomboy and have mostly male friends. I talk and listen to people for a living, so to be struggling like this is a foreign concept for me. People always tell me that I am easy to talk to, that they feel like they’ve known me for years, and can trust me with anything. It says something that I don’t know how to act when I’m around J.

Over the summer, I started taking J’s unwillingness to open up personally. I also noticed his friendliness and closeness to another female parishioner our age, who is married and whose husband holds a highly respected job. She is actively involved in the parish in a variety of roles and donates a substantial amount of money to the church. I have seen him engage in a way that I think is inappropriate for a pastor to engage with a parishioner but then I think: “am I just biased? Is it purely the fact that she gives money?” I am aware the church is a business. I don’t find that a comfort though—it makes me think less of him and get angry. If money is what he bases his friendships on, I find it sad and hypocritical. I can’t afford to give thousands to my church, but it doesn’t mean I love God any less. I also don’t want to think of the alternative, that she’s special to him in a way she shouldn’t be.

I struggle to understand why he has no issue interacting with this woman but gets nervous and discombobulated around me. I feel jealous and frustrated, as if I’m on an emotional roller coaster. I’m beginning to think we weren’t as close as I thought.

As soon as I pull away emotionally and get to a good place, it seems as if J can almost sense it, and he’ll do something to pull me back in. One day, it was telling how he was struggling. I didn’t want to talk personal issues in front of other parishioners, so I told him to text or call, whatever he felt comfortable with if he needed someone to talk to. It’s something I would do for any friend in need. He’s never once texted, emailed, or called. It’s disconcerting when we used to talk every single week, almost daily. I began thinking if it weren’t for Mary and the Eucharist, I’d consider becoming Protestant. I struggled over the summer to see how my faith could continue to grow in this church, but I didn’t feel like leaving either. I like the people, feel comfortable for the most part, and was doing fine when I got to a peaceful place about J. Finally, I got to a good place emotionally and it lasted for a few months. I was proud of myself.

That all changed. After recently experiencing a serious trauma, suddenly nothing mattered—not J, not this other woman—nothing was as important and crucial to my well-being as God and my faith. I am so thankful and grateful not only to be alive, but to have come to see it as a learning experience that readjusted my priorities. J was involved in my healing process and was honest; he admitted it scared him to see me that way. He told me that “out of all people, you don’t deserve this.”

Since then, I have noticed J. attempting to connect with me, but his immaturity and arrested development often get in the way and act as an obstacle in growing our friendship. He does small things, often within homilies or during prayers that I know are geared towards me. At first, I found myself thinking: “am I narcissistic? Egocentric? I think that was meant for me!” But then a smile or direct eye contact will reassure me, yes, I’m not crazy. I still find my mind drifting off to him, like a school girl with a crush. I feel sad, confused, angry, worried, and alone; it’s not exactly as if I can talk to just anyone about this. There are times, though, when I’m talking to him or praying with him, that I feel such joy and love, love for not only J, but an overwhelming love and closeness to God. One of J’s smiles can send me floating for days.

That being said for me, knowledge is power. I have actually sought out support groups online and in the process, read research and many books about this issue. Yes, women love priests. Some because it’s a challenge, some because they “lack self-esteem,” others because they love the priest not for his role, but because of the amazing man beneath the collar. I fall in this last category; I love J. for who he is, not WHAT he is. Yes, I’ve said it; I’m in love with a priest. It feels freeing to finally say those words. And I am no longer naïve to the fact that priests often love a woman back. I have rationalized my awareness that this man may indeed love me back for way too long. The key is he’ll never love me back in the way I deserve or need. I’ve come to understand that there is no happy ending in this situation. Will I ever tell J how I feel? Probably not, although if he directly calls me out on it, I wouldn’t lie. I don’t plan on leaving his church any time soon either, but don’t have plans to pursue more than a friendship. Believe me, if J ever tells me he’s leaving the priesthood, I’d be the first one (in a long line of women I’m sure) ready and eager to pursue a relationship, one that we both deserve and would be on equal footing.

Meanwhile, I plan on devoting some of my energy to advocating for the married priest movement. Why shouldn’t priests be able to marry? I find it ironic, as they speak about love and counsel married couples. Should a man who has chosen to spread the word of God be “punished” by an inability to experience God’s greatest gift—love? There is no way that anything that involves love can be a sin because it is of God. Period.

In ending, thank you for reading my story. It is because of the courage of the many folks who contribute to this blog that I was finally able to tell my story. I know many of you will relate to me and support me, but I’m also aware that others may think my feelings are wrong and am prepared for possible criticism. If you’re in the latter group, I only ask you to think of how it felt when you first experienced love: the excitement, the joy, and the confusion at times. Be kind to one another and may God continue to bless us all on our individual journeys.

Merry Christmas to All! Readers, let’s be charitable by finding the right phrase or writing, to help this lady.

When we were young we were submitted to various teachings. Most of the time, we read books. We tried to assimilate as much as we could. Then years passed by and somehow we re-connected to what teachers/parents/guardians had told us. Most probably what we’ve been thought was good. Yet in real life it seems that it is a different kind of fish. It’s what we call the gap between the theory and real life!

We were thought to look up to priests for friendship, counselling, ideas etc…Obviously in theory everything is in order. Yet each every human being is formed not only through teaching, but through personal experience, chemicals present in his genes etc…All this will make it highly improbable to foretell his future life as each person has a different outcome, which is based on millions of variables.

The first step is when one is asking for help. It brings the baptised person close to a priest. This is the work of the priest after all! But what happens when most of the priests feel all alone, neglected, alienated, disappointed and put aside? A normal kind of friendship (obviously there is nothing wrong), could be a tempting one for the priest. Instead of listening and comforting the person, the priest fulfils his needs for friendship, attention, love etc…within the counselling sessions. A counsellor has to listen to the client and not vice-versa, at least he can’t talk for a long period of time. The fact that the priest starts talking about his life means automatically that the sessions are taking a different path!

On the part of the person who is seeking the priest’s help, things start moving differently when they view the priest not as a counsellor but as the one who is fulfilling their dream of the ideal man! Obviously when one meets another person for a few hours weekly, it’s very easy to idolise that person! Remember that most people as viewed at work, might seem to be the ideal person. It’s when one lives with the person that one sees the complete picture! Yet, when one is hungry for love, recognition, attention and self affirmation, all other things will occupy a less important place in their lives! They just want to cling to somebody no matter what! It could be that we’re living in anonymous cities (Western part of the world), hence we desperately need friends!

We’ve been saying for quite some time now that priests who explain the word of God every Sunday (plus maybe other public meetings), are practically revealing their inner self to the general public. He is the one who speaks about a lot of values where no one speaks anymore (or at least not that often!). Speaking about such values will put more fire on a woman’s heart who is burning with desire to have a loving partner.

The priest in most cases, has all the time of the world to meet, listen and talk with parishioners. He is the one who makes his own timetable hence, he is easily available! The priest has no one to report to for his day to day running. Hence he can postpone last minute meetings without giving any real reason or hiding behind superficial reasons!

We don’t wish to give the message that it’s impossible, yet in the present circumstances, it’s getting more difficult to be a good friend to a priest. When a person is not complete (in many senses), it could lead to trouble, whether he is a priest, bishop, Pope, woman etc…In mathematics they used to teach us that a minus ( – ) with a minus ( – ), make a plus!

Our wish to have married priests will help the church to have a better system where priests are living in a relationship which will help them understand better the need for attention, love, affirmation etc…We’re not saying that it’s foolproof. There is nothing perfect. Yet on the human side of the argument, it will help them to be better prepared to work in today’s church.

Second Class Priests!

In the absence of love stories between priests and women, we are sharing our reflections regarding the latest news in the Catholic church.

In a March 2017 interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, Pope Francis used the term viri probati – in this context, religious married men of proven character – in saying he was open to the idea of a married priesthood, as is allowed for deacons, in remote areas where the priest shortage is particularly serious.

We are still not 100% sure of the outcome of married priests as we are still receiving conflicting news! Read this article

In any case it seems that all newspapers are agreeing that married priesthood is again in the news. Mulling all kind of news to look for positive news, we see some troubling ones. In the quoted statement made above, we have one single question: So are married priests just fillers? That is: are they being allowed as if they are necessary evil? Are they being allowed simply to fill in the blanks? Are we sort of second class priests who are allowed to work as priests simply because there is lack of?

Many people point to married priests because they think that will stop sexual abuse of children. People focus on sex because for news agencies it sells a lot of money! We do notice many priests who are living a solitary life. They are practically moving bodies but dead in their minds. Others who travel most of the time. Some who embrace luxuries. Others who are simply walking study books which amply shows the negative effects of forced celibacy. The list goes on and on.

Our main point of view has remained the same. Most of the apostles were married. Are we going to follow the bible or are we going against it? They do quote the bible profusely in other moral matters, yet about this one they are so silent! Why? If the apostles did it, why not the priests of today? Or are we like a supermarket: we pick up what we like in the church?!

Having married priests we hope it will bring the focus of the church on new challenges. One might be the complete overhaul of the relationship teaching (and not sex!). Strong and stable relationship calls for consequences which will help the priest to mature as he faces different challenges in life. One glaring example would be children. Taking care of your own children will bring a new insight in the life of the priest. Married priesthood will help the priest to reconnect with normal life with all its challenges. Consequently, the whole church will change. This is the revolution which we are looking forward to experience. In the end there will be winners all the way. All would feel much nearer to God. Everybody will experience the Emmanuel – God is with us! It would be interesting to visit a priest who has kids crying, eating and dirtying all the house whilst he is trying to communicate with God! It would be a good example of how to keep God in the centre of all activity!

It’s up to our readers to continue our reflection.

Secret Relationships with priests

Relationships are common like air. Everybody is in a kind of relationship: at home; at work or with neighbours. The surprise is, that like parenthood, very few receive any kind of instructions or training. When things go wrong, people realise that something important is missing. People are aware of the importance to cultivate free, positive, healthy and educational relationships.

The relationship between a woman and a priest is no exception although it has its own peculiarities. Several of the readers who write about their hidden love, seems to be unaware of some basic needs/information about relationships. We are trying to make some people aware of some pitfalls before undergoing or letting go into such relationships.

Any relationship needs some basic things to survive. Let’s try to write about some of them.

Communication: Each one of us needs to tell our significant other about our daily events, the pros and the cons of our life etc… the fact that for most of our woman, the priest does not communicate or else communicates in a very strange way, is an indication that the relationship has already some major problems. Communication is a thermometer which indicates the level of strength or weakness of a relationship. No communication is equal to no relationship at all.

Mr Evasive: Any relationship involves two persons. Now maybe one is already dreaming of the priest as a future husband, plus children etc.. but does the priest think in the same way? It’s incredible how some women run really fast in a relationship whilst the priest may simply be, first having fun or else, emptying his reproductive sacks! Did some of our women check what the priest really wants from such a relationship? Is he going to be committed to you? People have a habit of procrastination or be very evasive when faced with deep questions. As we amply wrote last time, one cannot be evasive for too long. A time frame makes sure that beyond a certain time frame, one needs to let go and forget all about the priest. If not, one is letting himself become abused by the priest.

Secrecy: We understand that most loving relationships are not born by choice involving a woman and a priest. We understand the need for secrecy at the beginning of a clandestine relationship and for a certain period of time. But would you like to live all your life in secrecy? Would you accept that you can never walk hand in hand with him in public? Would you accept the fact that you can never have your own house where to live twenty four hours with your loved one? If she doesn’t have a problem with secrecy than surely she is going to hit the wall at an incredible speed. The pain will surely be unbearable at that very moment.

The significant other: the beauty of a relationship is that one comes close to another person and sees his/her personal life. Priests have a knack of preaching to others and hide behind several masks. Incredibly you might not get to know the real person. Please forget what the priest might tell you. Remember that priests are very good, persuasive talkers. They might chat about many subjects yet avoid to tell you how they really feel. They might emphasize about how bad his superiors are and/or other situations in the church, yet he does not share with you how is he going to face the situation nor does he mention any concrete steps how to come out of it. For a change look at facts! They speak louder. Does he flirt with other women? Is he just experimenting with your body? Priests lack physical and intimate contact, hence if you give him permission to touch you, he might be just releasing some physical and sexual tensions.

Loneliness: Is the priest just passing through a middle age crisis or is he just feeling lonely? In some cases the priest might look at you, first as a close friend (maybe with sexual benefits), but nothing less and nothing more! He might use you for some weeks or months, never to be seen again. This is because he is using your relationship just to fill his empty and lonely soul. If you listen to him with your mind rather than with your heart, you might get the hidden message. Homilies indirectly reveal a lot about his psychological being. One needs to listen attentively and connect the missing dots. When you read between the lines, what is he trying to say (the unsaid words)?

Daydreaming: This sounds sinister and odd yet very true. Some women incredibly make up a whole story just because the priest paid some special attention in just one occasion! Fantasies or thoughts do not constitute a real and true relationship! It has to be real. One cannot exchange just a few glances with a real relationship. How can one be sure of a relationship if there has never been a real dialogue? It’s just a waste of time and energy which will definitely lead to a great depression. One cannot live his whole life imagining what if…..

The Real One: We might have given the impression that all relationships with priests will fail. No it’s not true. There is the priest who has taken the necessary time for reflection and he has definitely decided to leave the parish. He faces the big decision on his own. Separately he has thought a lot about having a full relationship with a woman. These two great decisions should never be mixed up together. Each one of them should be examined carefully and separately. The priest should take a decision after a long time of reflection and discernment. This applies especially to the case when his woman is pregnant. The priest, although he has to accept his paternal responsibilities, must not be forced to marry. He needs to take one step at a time.

In many cases, the married priest, if all decisions were taken in a mature way, should have a wonderful relationship with his future wife. It proves that in a mature relationship, the priest can lead a healthy, spiritual life where he could be of a better service to the whole community. One can easily google the many cases where the priests live happily with their wives. The community can testify that in most cases, one can notice the positive change in the priest leading their parish in a married state. The number of married priests is increasing all the time in the Catholic Church. This is a positive seed which might grow bigger and give more bountiful results.

We’ve been insisting that married priesthood opens up the priest to a new reality: one of them meeting many people who are unchurched. One of the most common solutions would be to invite them to church and have a frankly talk. The immediate problem arises: what about the teachings of the church today? If they truly come to church there remains one big problem: how to reconcile people’s expectations with the teaching of the church. This is one of the reasons why in the Western Culture, people are leaving the church.

The Second Vatican Council (a meeting for all bishops which took place between 1962-1965), emphasized that we no longer support a theory which has to be put into practice but rather see the praxis (practice)  or how the christian community is living and form up the theory. If we really believe this, then we could start the teaching for adults and surely the adults will come. They would feel truly adults in faith as they would have a main part in forming up the teaching of the church. On the other hand, if some unmarried priests or bishops still have the main role in forming up the teaching element of the church, then surely they would be alienated from today’s problems and consequently they would not provide the true teaching of God. It’s no surprise that in the USA today contraceptives still play an important part. It’s the so called celibate, (better to use the unmarried term) priests obsessed with power. No married person who is in his senses, would propose such a thing!

On the other hand we know from experience that others don’t have the luxury of leaving the Catholic Church. There were many married priests who found it really difficult to find a job just because they left the church. Other faithful members cannot show dissent as otherwise they would suffer big consequences. But all in all, there are many people nowadays who are not in agreement with their bishops.

We are very sorry that another bishop had to resign for the same reason: falling in love with a woman. When are we going to read the gospel and notice that most of the apostles were married? Are we still in the middle ages where we used to believe that intelligent woman were either possessed by the devil or else psycho cases? Why are we so afraid of women when Mary was declared mother of God? Another secondary note is that this bishop had to resign simply because he fell in love with a woman: how about other bishops who have hidden the sexual abuse of priests? Do they need to resign? How do they sleep at night? What about their conscience? What about those who have committed suicide because of a sexual abuse by a priest?

Just one positive note: We firmly believe that the Holy Spirit has his own unique ways of changing the church. Consequently we are not pessimistic about the Catholic Church. Another married father and son are ordained as Catholic priests. Obviously there were Anglicans before joining the Catholic Church. So the people of God are getting used to see married priests. That means a lot. Well the change has come! Who knows what might happen in the future?

Homily {in Maltese}