'What are the qualities of a good priest? Priest from our own Parish
By LINDA ANDRADE RODRIGUES
Standard-Times staff writer
July 26, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD — The congregation of Our Lady of Purgatory Church recently feted one of their own good priests.Chorbishop Michael G. Thomas, vicar general of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, celebrated a Liturgy of Thanksgiving at his hometown parish in honor of his 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.During the homily, Chorbishop Thomas said that the support the parishioners gave him as he was growing up in the parish was essential in the development of his vocation. Offering inspiration for the next generation, he also read selections from essays that had been written by New Bedford Catholic schoolchildren to demonstrate the important role Catholic priests play in the everyday lives of their parishioners. Born on Feb. 26, 1957, Chorbishop Thomas attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and Bishop Stang High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in French from Providence College.Attending seminary at the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City, he received a bachelor's degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He also earned a doctorate in canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome.Chorbishop Thomas was ordained in New Bedford for the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn on Feb. 11, 1983 by Archbishop Francis M. Zayek.
He was elevated to the rank of periodeut with the title of monsignor by Cardinal Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, Maronite patriarch of Antioch and all the East, on April 10, 2001. Invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem on June 9, 2002, he was elevated to chorbishop by Cardinal Sfeir on Dec. 12, 2005 at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn.Following the liturgy, over 150 family, friends, parishioners and residents of The Cedars joined Chorbishop Thomas at a reception at the assisted living facility. One of the highlights of the reception was the awards ceremony for the winning essays and drawings. Catholic schoolchildren in grades 3-8 were asked to write an essay describing the qualities of a good priest and how a good priest has positively impacted their lives. Over 320 essays were submitted.Jillian McHenry of St. James-St. John School, Emma Vasquez of Holy Family-Holy Name School and Amanda Raffa of St. Joseph-St. Therese School wrote the winning essays. The author of each winning essay received a $50 U.S. savings bond.Children in kindergarten-grade 2 submitted over 170 drawings.
The winning drawings were the artwork of Gabriella Dias and Jerome Castro of Holy Family-Holy Name School. Both students also received a $50 bond.The following are the winning essays:My parish and I have been blessed with very good priests. As a younger child, it was sometimes hard to focus during Mass.
Therefore; a priest always should be loud. A priest should care for everyone, even people of other religions.I very well know that priests are human and not perfect, but I think a priest should be a role model. They shouldn't use foul language or yell at someone for doing wrong. A priest is someone you can look up to.For me to walk into a confessional and tell just any priest my sins is sometimes hard. I think a priest should be trustworthy. Also sometimes after confession, a priest will tell you some advice on how not to commit a certain sin.I want a priest to be my spiritual advisor. I need someone to help me strengthen my relationship with God and help me do his will. The priest that has had the greatest impact on my life is Father Samuel Leonard. He is a humorous priest. He has greatly influenced me to put God first in my life, and he encourages me to stay faithful to the church. These words will stay with me forever.EMMA VASQUEZGrade 6Holy Family Holy Name SchoolI think priests are good people because they want to give their life to God. What makes a good priest is when he is friendly, kind, supportive and loving.The priest at my church is Father Hamel. We are very lucky to have him because he is a great priest. Father Hamel changed my life because when my cousin died he was at my house visiting my family. Father Hamel was the one who gave me my First Communion.There was just a priest at St. Joseph-St. Therese who had his first Mass.
It was called a high mass where they sang all the words! It was one of the most important Masses of the church.I am very happy God made special people to be priests. Some people don't realize it, but they gave their life to be religious, holy and helpful to others. That's why I think priests are good people.Amanda Raffa Grade 3St. Joseph - St. Therese SchoolThere are many different qualities looked for in a good priest. Priests are expected to be caring, compassionate and understanding. They are looked up to as good role models and are often asked for their opinion or advice. They are approachable and friendly, someone people will not be afraid to go to.
But most importantly, they spread God's word to people. They live Jesus' example everyday and work hard to bring Jesus and God into people's lives. Priests are a prime example for the Catholic faith and morals.Good priests are caring and not afraid to help. They are constantly administering to the poor and needy, as well as living out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The works of mercy state our obligation to help our brothers and sisters in Christ on a daily basis. There also are caring gestures that can be performed to society. A church could have a food or clothing drive, prayer services or a youth group to bring God into the lives of young teenagers living in today's much too violent world. These can be organized by a priest and executed in their parish. Works like these show that a priest cares for society and will go out of his way to make a difference in peoples lives.Many priests are also compassionate.
They will make you feel better about a loss or anything that might be bothering you. They are often people that are turned to for prayers or reassurance that everything will be okay. A good priest will listen and be sympathetic. They will proceed to reassure you and promise their prayers. Many people know that they can confide in their parish priest and that they will never fail to make them feel better.Everyday, priests worldwide live out Jesus' example. They spread his good news and bring Jesus and God's influence to people around the world. This sets a good example.
Priests can be looked up to as role models for people of all ages. They are willing to help the poor or anyone that might be in need. They also educate people about God and Jesus. Priests execute the Catholic faith and morals by guiding people in the right direction. Daily, they live out Jesus' example and bring his influence into people's lives. They are truly good role models and strive to set a good example.Priests also need to be personable. They need to be friendly and understanding so that people will not be afraid to go up to them and ask a question. They are often asked for advice on various situations. A good priest will return the request with a pithy, but honest, answer.
A priest can be a trusted person that people confide in. They will give good advice and help people though difficult times with guidance and reassurance. All this can be achieved with a good personality and a positive mien.Throughout my many years as a member of the Catholic Church, there is one priest that I have known that has had a positive influence on me. His name is Father Brian Harrington. When I was younger, he was the pastor of St. Julie Billiart Church in North Dartmouth. He celebrated many sacraments with me including my First Holy Communion and Reconciliation.
Father Brian always made sure that he connected with the kids. His homilies were always understandable for people of all ages. He never failed to deliver a positive message and helped me understand what was written in the Bible. He always taught me to try my best to live out Jesus' example and to be a good Catholic girl. He explained what Jesus wanted me to do. Father Brian never failed to answer all of my many questions. He told me to follow my dreams and that Jesus would guide and care for me wherever I want. Father Brian embodies all the qualities that I look for in a good priest, and I will hold all the things he told me close to my heart. I have always and will always look up to him as a role model and leader. He has always set a good example and will continue to do so for years to come. I truly hope that he has had the same impact on the lives of others as he has had on me.JILLAIN MCHENRYGrade 8St. James-St. John School