The problem of discontentment and satisfaction is not unique to the Catholic Church. It happens in Christian churches and parishes all across the nation. On a weekly basis, parish members choose to leave and find another parish because they don’t like the priest.
If you are asking yourself if you should leave your parish because of your priest, let’s first examine a few reasons that have brought you to that crossroads.
Why do you not like the priest?
“I don’t like the priest” is an all too common complaint among those who leave one parish for another. But, before leaving the parish because you don’t like the priest, answer one simple question: “Why do you not like the priest”?
If the priest has made changes you do not agree with, such as putting new carpet in or changing the tile in the fellowship hall or making new committees, then you might want to question why that bothers you so much. If you are unhappy because he didn’t consult your opinion, he put people on a committee you don’t like, or that maybe he didn’t put you on the committee, then you may need to pray about your feelings and the pride that may be rising up in you.
If changes to the parish, such as those, are the reasons you are not happy with the priest then you should stick it out and pray for the priest, your parish, and for you to be a supportive member of the Church. Remember, it’s not the priest we go to Mass for – it’s Jesus. It’s not the priest’s church, it’s the Lord’s. If you are going to a particular parish just because of the popularity of the priest, then you are going for the wrong reasons and that could be the reason you don’t like your priest – especially if your favorite priest has been moved and you now have a new one.
Has your view or feelings of the priest changed because of gossip, rumors, or something someone else said that you do not have facts to support? Be cautious and never let your feelings of your priest be influenced by others and what they have to say about him. If you do not know that something is fact, don’t let that be the reason you dislike or do not support your priest.
I don’t like what the priest is preaching
If your priest is preaching heresy, then there is a valid concern. If your priest fills his homilies with his own opinions or preaches against what the Church teaches, then you should pray for him and change parishes. He will have to answer to the Lord for teaching heresy, but you should go to a parish where the Word of God is preached and your faith is strengthened.
Many times a priest will preach things that people do not like but it is the truth and is the authoritative teachings of the Church. If that is the reason you do not like the priest, because he is preaching and upholding the teachings of the Church, then you should re-examine your own conscience and faith.
Regardless if your dislike of the priest is valid or not, you should always pray for him.
My priest prevents me from growing in my faith
First, let’s be clear, how deep your faith is with the Lord is not the sole responsibility of the priest. Much of that responsibility falls on you as well and how you live your life on a daily basis – not just at Mass.
However, if you are desiring to serve the Lord and feel called to serve the Lord in your parish but you are being prevented from doing so, then you may have a valid concern and perhaps might choose to leave the parish.
Despite the role our priests play in our lives and the life of the Church, never forget they too are human. There are some great priests and there are certainly some bad ones. Sometimes you may find your priest uses personal, political, or social reasons for the decisions he makes – and that can sometimes cause you to be excluded from serving in the parish because he places others in those positions. If you have volunteered for positions, offered to help in various ways, and have not been allowed to do so, then you might choose to find another parish that will enable you to serve.
The Lord desires for all of us to love Him, serve Him, and obey Him. If you are not being allowed to serve in your parish for various reasons (as long as those reasons are not because of your own personal sin or situations) then you may decide to leave the parish and find one that will allow you to serve.
There are also those who choose to stay at a parish despite a bad priest or disagreeing with a priest. That is certainly an option as well because parishes need individuals who will stick it out, pray for the parish, pray for the priest, and try to help resolve issues that have arisen. Whether that is you or not, pray for those who do stay at the parish.
Most importantly, if your feelings or situation with your priest is preventing you from enjoying the beauty and majesty of the Mass, from being able to pray with a sincere heart, and from being able to experience a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus, then you will need to consider finding another parish. Whether you stay or whether you go, always ensure you have a clean heart and your decision comes on the heels of deep prayer and being led by the Holy Spirit.