An Excerpt from the study:
The First Five Years of the Priesthoodby Dean Hoge
A Young Priest Speaks About The Difficulties Of Priesthood
Sometimes you like a little more feedback. From staff members or parishioners, across the board. Sometimes you want to know, did that touch someone? Did it go well? It's not like I'm looking for a reward for something, but the feedback is delayed.
Another thing. Sometimes you get times where, especially in dealing with people who are sick and the bereaved, you get a whole bunch of that piled up. Then it seems like every person who is sick is coming down with something so fatal that there is no hope for getting better, barring any miracles. You kind of take several body blows all at once. . . . Emotionally it's draining to drive by all the places as you're going on Communion calls where you used to stop to bring Communion, and now all these people are dead.
Sometimes the hours are long. One week I decided I'm going to add up my hours just to know where the time goes. I think I got to Thursday, and it was already at sixty-nine hours. . . . It makes it difficult to balance prayers, to balance exercise, to balance all those things that you really need to have a balanced life.
I think you have to be careful of expectations. As much as possible you try to be there, but you've got to know when to say, "No, I can't do this. Let's look for a different way of going about this. Can someone other than the priest celebrate a prayer service for this occasion?" . . . How do we delegate, how much do we encourage people to take on that role in the fullness that it's meant to be? Collaboration is so necessary to parishes today.
Bishop ---- just came out with a letter about keeping things in perspective. I found that very good. Letting guys know that it's okay to say no to things. I think a lot of guys still come out with the messiah complex, to be all things to all people, always and everywhere. But that's not healthy. You've got to take time for yourself, you've got to take time for retreat.
And prayer. Prayer is so important too. If you want to talk about something that's been difficult and sometimes discouraging for myself, the toughest thing is the Liturgy of Hours. Doing that every day, trying to pray it instead of just saying it. Fitting that prayer in as well as other kinds of prayer, prayer that one finds important to one's own personal spirituality, it's juggling and really tough sometimes. Liturgy of Hours helps me really ground myself. I need to do this; this one's required. Which one wins? It's something I work through with my spiritual director. Every priest should have one. I don't know that I would survive without one.
Feelings of loneliness i see as a call from God, as if God were saying to me, "Come and talk to me. You have been away from me too long." It is a call from God to prayer, not an emptiness that needs to be filled by diversions, movies, or running away.