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Author Topic: I need help figuring this out...about my Priest.  (Read 1999 times) Average Rating: 0
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M
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« on: January 28, 2008, 11:38:57 AM »

First, some background information. I've recently converted from Protestantism to Orthodoxy about a year ago. My Priest thought me to be rather level headed and decided that though I wasn't even an official Orthodox yet (have yet to be Chrismated) that I could help with Sunday School. So I did.

A few months later I was having difficulties in life that prevented me from going to Liturgy every week. I was also under the impression that I only had to see my Priest whenever I had questions about the faith...not as a routine deal. Well, rumors begin to surface about me teaching there and also not being there all of the time so I begin contemplating leaving the Sunday School so that I don't tarnish the reputation of the parish. Before I go, however, I wanted to register with my Priest some issues I was having with the Sunday School classes in general. You see, the teaching is rather simplistic for the age group I help to teach (High School students), so many times a majority of the students leave. I call my Priest up one night trying to explain this, basically saying how I feel there is a problem with Sunday School because kids are leaving. He blows up on me saying how I'm not even Orthodox and I have no right to be giving my opinion on such a matter (though I am apparently a Sunday School teacher).

Anyways, getting past this...we resolve the issue (at least I think we did) and he said all was forgiven and I ended up resigning my position as I had planned before.

He then tells me I still need to recieve instruction so get ahold of him or something during each and every week so as to resume my lessons.

Well, about a week or so later I call the other Priest, Father Joe because I feel more comfortable speaking with him about certain issues; likewise with the other Priest. I didn't realize I had to only see one Priest for teaching; this was never told to me.

So about a few days later I recieve a letter in the mail saying how I am no longer considered a catechumen for the Orthodox Church and I will no longer be recieved (after almost a year now) and that in order to be recieved I have to start the whole process over. The reasons are because I have 1.) Not been seeing the head priest for instructions every week, though I was notified earlier only to see him when I have questions 2.) I have not been able to come to all the Feast days or Vigils (because I work alot).

Now, within this letter he also brings up the Sunday School incident again, and I have no idea why. He mentions it briefly, but I really don't understand why he did. Further, every time I speak with him now he seems accusatory of my actions or lack of actions regarding the Church. He has, on certain occasions, said things like, "I don't know why you don't come for isntructions; I guess it's because you think you know everything or something." and it is often that he doesn't seem to wish to understand my situation at all (which is another reason I prefer to speak with Father Joe). He also accused me of calling him on Christmas to speak with him about matters in my life and interupting his family affairs...when all I did on Christmas was call him to wish him a "Merry Christmas".

I don't know the tone I am feeling from him. It seems as though he has little respect for me or at least little respect for my standing as a Christian. I don't know what to gather from the way he speaks to me, but I often feel put down or degraded in some manner when he does.

I really don't mean to accuse him of anything in this topic, but my heart is full of sadness and rage. I am sad because I feel like no one understands me at this parish and I will have to start my lessons over again and I am in a rage because my desire to be Orthodox has been overshadowed by what I feel to be a misunderstanding or miscommunication between I and my head priest. I further feel at rage because my desire...my devotion, though it even seems minimal is overshadowed by those who are born into the faith and could care less for it. Why is it that I must suffer to wait to take the Holy Communion, but a person who is born into the Faith is automatically Orthodox whether they care or not?


I have decided to go through the lessons again...with my Head Priest so as to prove to him that I do want to become Orthodox. I have also decided not to confront him about my feelings because I feel it wil create a further rift. I don't know what else to do.

I just needed to vent. I am sorry if I have said anything blasphemous, but I cannot understand what I have done wrong in my heart. I feel as though if I try to explain myself to him he will only see it as an excuse or a lack of interest in the faith. I feel bad speaking about this behind him even...for if he were to find out I feel as though there would be great reprocussions.


My apologies.
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FrChris
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Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!


« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2008, 11:52:27 AM »

M---

You didn't say anything blasphemous...to me it sounds like miscommunications due to overworked clergy. This is not your fault, but somehow you are bearing the brunt of things.

Would you be more comfortable going to a different parish? Do you feel the relationship with the senior priest is harmed to such a degree that it cannot be salvaged, even with apologies exchanged between the two of you?

Feel free to PM me...I'm extremely busy this week, but I will do what I can to help.
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Thomas
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2008, 12:56:42 PM »

M---

I agree with Father Chris that much of this may be pure miscommunication and may be resolved if you continue with the priest at the parish that you are at.  If there is another Orthodox Church in the area that may also be an option , but as is the case often, there is only one Orthodox Church in the area you will have to make it work.

As for teaching Sunday School prior to Chrismation, that was a bit surprising, but not dramatically different than happened to myself  and my wife when we came into the Church.  We had recently left the Mormon Church--- after we were Chrismated, father asked that we teach classes in the Sunday school to Elementary Children.  When my wife and I noted that we were unsure if that was wise, he told us.  "Read the material, teach the material ,and learn as a young child with the children."  We did so and it was a great experience.  We tended to add activities like we were used in our previous Sunday Schohol (songs and games) which that further enriched the program and after about 5 years I was asked to become the Sunday School director until I moved to another area of the country.  We were thankful for the opportunity to learn---we probably learned more basic  Theology there than we did in our priestly instruction classes during our Catechumenate.

Thomas

« Last Edit: January 28, 2008, 02:47:17 PM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2008, 06:49:58 PM »

I think this is a good opportunity to practice love and humility.  Have you been wronged by this misunderstanding?  Probably, but don't look at it that way.  If you have the strength to bear it (and not all do), assume that you are to blame in all this.  Take the chief among sinners thing to heart.  Accept the dishonor and enjoy how it humbles you.  It's a hard thing to do, and you might not be ready, but I think it's the highest response.  Apologize to your priest (even if, rationally examining it, you don't think you're wrong) and try to make reparations in love. 

If your chrismation is going to be delayed a year, look at it as a blessing, if you can.  You have another year to learn and better prepare yourself.  I sometimes wish I had a little more time.

Humility is an important thing, and sometimes the best way to cultivate it is to accept dishonor even when you don't actually deserve it.  If you're ready, give it a try, maybe asking another priest who knows you if you're prepared.
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2008, 08:19:27 PM »

Welcome to OC.net, Varlaam.
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2008, 08:55:50 PM »

M:

Reading your post was I like getting a punch in the gut. I feel for you, but I also applaud you and not bringing the matter up again and for continuing as a catechumen. FrChris is a good resource to talk to here on the net, he has helped my before.

My prayers are with you, please keep up the faith you are not alone. There are many both cradle and convert who care deeply about their Orthodox faith. Also, welcome to OCNet.
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2008, 01:10:09 AM »

Hi M!

First, welcome to the OCNet!  I think you're gonna like it here.  As for your post, I can't necessarily add anything that Fr. Chris or the other fellas have said except to say don't be disheartened, don't give up and I'll be praying for you! Smiley

In Christ,
Gabriel
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2008, 01:17:14 AM »

I would say that you should print out what you wrote here and show it to your priest at the church you are having problems at.  It seems like a good summary of what you are going through. 

But then again, i'm more of a "brute force" type of guy with this kind of stuff...so take it with a grain of salt.  (or several grains).   Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2008, 02:28:05 AM »

Well I'm the last person in the world to be taking advice from so I won't give any. I just can't imagine what you must feel like, you're in my prayers.

Just one thing......priest are sinners just like the rest of us.......


Yours in Christ
Paisius
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Simayan
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2008, 07:54:58 PM »

I hate to sound bitter, but were I in your situation, I would go to a different parish ASAP. Frankly, I see his actions as wrathful and counterproductive, especially when dealing with a convert. The part that concerns me the most is the following:

Quote
So about a few days later I recieve a letter in the mail saying how I am no longer considered a catechumen for the Orthodox Church and I will no longer be recieved (after almost a year now) and that in order to be recieved I have to start the whole process over. The reasons are because I have 1.) Not been seeing the head priest for instructions every week, though I was notified earlier only to see him when I have questions 2.) I have not been able to come to all the Feast days or Vigils (because I work alot).

In regards to 1.), a priest is a priest. One may be the head, but it seems like the one who sent this letter is arrogant in his position of authority if he doesn't want you to speak to his associate. And certainly that year of training you did receive is not nullified. And, frankly, 2.) is none of his business. Liturgy is one thing, but keeping your job takes precedence over going to a Vigil. Had my priest told me to skip school to go to services early in the morning under threat of being kicked out, I would have contacted the Bishop with all speed.



However, if there's only one parish in the area, it seems you are doing all you can do. You certainly have more patience that I would in dealing with an inhospitable church.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2008, 07:56:19 PM by Simayan » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2008, 09:05:37 PM »

Further comment on Point #2- Simayan has a point. In the old days when my grnadfather first came to the US many of the immigrants were forced to work back braking hours to support there, often large, families. Were they kicked out of the parish - - no way. Furthermore, many of the priest relaxed the fasting rules so that the men who worked could receive adequate nourishment. Most worked at jobs involving physical labor. Now I know it's no longer the early 20th century but many people still must work many hours to keep a job and benefits.
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2008, 11:38:10 PM »

Varlaam and M, welcome to the forum!

M,
It is very unfortunate that you have to go through this ordeal. IMHO, please approach to inform the pries that everything has been a miscommunication due to heavy work loads. If that would not work, what about finding another parish? My prayers and best wishes for a quick solution of the issue.
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M
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2008, 11:20:52 PM »

Thank you all deeply from my heart for your concerns and advice. I have taken everyone's opinions here into account and I have figured out what to do Smiley
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