Vulnerability and Priesthood

Recently, I  was in awe of the manifestation of vulnerability among my brother priests. 

My colleague and friend, Esteban Kross, Suriname, was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. He travelled to Holland for medical treatment. One day, I messaged him to enquire about his progress. He responded:

Fr. Esteban Kross

Hi Don. My update:

On Wednesday an uncle and aunt of mine came to pick me up at 6.30 am to accompany me to the hospital first for the taking of blood samples. Afterwards I was given an injection with some fluid that has some radioactive quality to it and that would take two and a half hours to spread throughout the body and penetrate the bones of the skeleton. My uncle and aunt stayed with me the full morning. We had breakfast together and I played on this piano that was there in the main hall of the hospital, with a sign asking to bring joy to others by playing, if one was so gifted. Indeed, it did just that!

Esteban has an incredible and amazing gift of playing the organ and the piano. Amidst his own anxiety and medical preoccupation, he responded to the prompting of the Spirit to “bring joy to others by playing.” 

Another brother priest, Fr. Harold Imamshah posted a message on his Facebook page. In this post, I saw vulnerability as a brightly coloured flower waking up to greet the morning sun. He writes:

I was in the Grocery this week and a sudden feeling of isolation came over me; I was in that very spot a year ago. Next Tuesday will be 1 year since Mom left; my only brother and sibling died in 2012 and my dad died when I was 3. So, at night when I look at my Hindu Soap Opera, full of references and scenes with Families, it can be torturous… (and alone).

These two manifestations of vulnerability catapulted me to memories of our priestly ordination ritual when the Church invited us to participate in the most vulnerable liturgical rite – lying prostrate (face down) on the heavily-walked, dirty, and bacteria-populated Cathedral floor. But this gesture was married with the singing of the Litany of the Saints. In her wisdom the Church knew the value of this marriage.

“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure….”

(Brené Brown, Daring Greatly)

On this day of the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of priest, I ask for his intercession for all priests.

One thought on “Vulnerability and Priesthood

  1. What a beautiful piece! Cardinal Collins of Toronto once remarked that there are two instances when a priest is horizontal in the church: face down at his ordination, and face up at his funeral. That alone always blows my mind, but I’ll complete his comment with his exact words: ‘In every moment between those two points, he must be on fire with sacrificial love and priestly zeal.’


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