Therapist-Priest?

33037639_10215028690525022_8364415149301301248_nMy best friend said this in a convo about our vocations and callings that we had a few weeks ago about vocations and callings:

And let’s face it also. People like King were actually able to make a career out of what they did. Even Bishop Barron – his Evangelization was and is his job. It’s what he does.”

To which I said:

That’s where this comes for me…….

Priesthood.
Calling.
Vocation.

I can’t help, but feel that being a licensed professional counselor, as much as I love it, and as much as it would make me a better priest should I become one, isn’t my ultimate calling. It was a path to that calling. Something to equip me better to

serve
fight
stand up
teach
preach
minister
serve
evangelize
pastor
shepherd

I love getting to serve as a counselor and help others, but I can’t help but feel and think that this isn’t all there is for me. That there’s more to come and that serving as a licensed professional counselor, in and out of the Church, and getting that experience and expertise is vital to what is coming. It’s necessary, in fact.

That was the end of my response to Matt, but I continue now with this:

Becoming a priest isn’t an abandoning of counseling, just a fulfilling of that counseling role in that being a priest is a “liturgical counselor” role for me (to make up a word). As a priest the best “therapy,” I’d use is the Eucharist. The two roles overlap in so many ways!

Anyone who has read “Generation to Generation,” by Dr. Edwin Friedman, knows the premise is basically that clergy have more “therapeutic leadership” than counselors because clergy live life with congregations by burying people, helping couples, celebrating births, baptizing babies, marrying people, and visiting the sick. Clergy get more involved in the lives of their congregations than counselors do their clients. They live life and practice their faith together; the clinician doesn’t do this.

Friedman proposes that clergy are therapist and can have a greater impact by their closer proximity and more intimate level of interaction than counselors. Imagine being a therapist-priest and realizing that! If I don’t become a lifelong counselor in the sense of working strictly with counseling, I’ll never forgo counseling because that’s a vital part of priesthood for me and always will be!

The therapist-priest role is one that is rare, incredibly impactful, deeply Sacramental, very intimate, and salvific on the part of the one who serves as priest.

I met my bishop, Brian Cole, for the first time almost two weeks ago. Emily Hand and I approached him to introduce ourselves and chat. We told him about how I’ve wrestled with a call to priesthood for over a decade, and that when the right time comes, we hope he can help us figure that out. He stopped all we were doing and prayed right there for us and my calling to priesthood and for clarity in that. Like my wonderful priest, Fr. Timothy Holder, know I can trust them both to help me and guide me in my discerning this calling I’ve not been able to shake or figure out for a decade now.

All in all, I’ll continue to serve as a therapist as a vocation and lay member until God says I’m ready for priesthood if I’m meant to take that path of salvation and vocation. Lord have mercy. God will guide and call; God isn’t the God of confusion, so in the meantime, I’ll continue loving and serving His Church as a counselor and Eucharistic minister.

Glory to God for all things.

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