Secrets to being a happy priest

By Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P.

The church should be a community in which people discover God’s delight in them. This is the ministry of priests. This is my life.

Father Paddy Gilger, S.J. gives a kiss to his goddaughter and niece, Hayden Bauer.

When Jesus was baptized, a voice was heard from heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I delight.” The church should be a community in which people discover God’s delight in them. This is the ministry of priests. Father Paddy Gilger, S.J. gives a kiss to his goddaughter and niece, Hayden Bauer. (Courtesy of Father Paddy Gilger, S.J.)


LET ME MAKE a confession. As the time for me to be ordained drew near, I began to have terrible doubts as to whether I was called to be a priest. I had become deeply repelled by any hint of priestly superiority. I dreaded the hypocrisy of it, because I knew that I was no better than anyone else. I only accepted ordination in obedience to my Dominican brethren. I could identify with Saint Augustine who wept when he was ordained a priest. The cynics thought that he was weeping because he had not been made a bishop, but in fact it was because he had no desire to be a priest at all.

After my ordination I saw with horror my parent’s parish priest advancing toward me. Only two years before, he had commanded me to leave “those heretical Dominicans” so that I might save my soul. Now he threw himself down before me and asked for a blessing from my sacred hands. I fled from the reception to my room, to recover my calm. I was only driven back because one of my German brothers followed me upstairs and trie