From a reader…
I volunteer a substantial amount of my time and talent to help our priests with sacramental prep, providing music for Mass (which alone takes up several hours), as well as helping to clean the rectory on a regular basis. Furthermore, I readily offer my assistance as needed for other tasks. I’ve been doing this for six years now, and not once have I been thanked by one of our priests for my efforts. Quite the opposite, if I need the priest’s time for something (ie: to discuss a spiritual matter) I have to practically beg for a half hour of their time (picture the woman begging our Lord for the crumbs that fall from the table, and that’s about how I feel when I need to ask for some of our priests’ time). Meanwhile other parishioners have no issues with getting time to meet with him.
I don’t get it. While I don’t do things for the sake of being thanked, the lack of appreciation I receive as well as being treated like a second-class parishioner, is really starting to take its toll on me. I get frustrated and want to tell my priest to clean his own house (I work full time and only get one day off a week as well and I still have to keep my living quarters clean) and do all my other daily tasks without anyone else helping me.
I make sure to graciously thank him for his time and sacrifices, but I still get treated like dung.
Why are some priests so ungrateful towards volunteers, and what would you recommend I do? I feel like stopping all services, but I feel God would be displeased with me, or that I would lose out on greater merits for Heaven. At the same time, I worry that this is just enabling him in his ungrateful behaviour.
Why are some priests ungrateful? For the same reasons that some bishops are ungrateful, some cardinals are snide, some popes are testy, and some lay people are annoying.
Original sin is at the heart of this, further complicated by personal sins.
We are all human. We are all subject to the same struggles and temptations. All of us are capable, through God’s benevolent grace, of great acts of heroism. We’re also all capable of small acts of … well, of smallness.
I think I understand your situation. While not doing virtuous things for the sake of earthly reward, that occasional pat on the back and knowledge that what we’re doing is appreciated is a good thing. I will be the first to admit that priests (and others) don’t always show proper gratitude. This is why I say Masses for benefactors and I let them know through the blog.
What’s the best strategy?
Perhaps you can use the passive-aggressive approach: grouse and grumble a lot. Do your volunteer work with lots of sighs and looking at the clock. Gossip with your friends and neighbors about how lousy Fr. Q is. When asked what’s wrong, answer, resignedly, “Oh…. nothing.” Perhaps find a way to comfort yourself by overindulging in created comforts: food, booze, luxuries. Complain a lot, even when you’re alone. That should work.
Another, different, strategy would be to take the matter by the horns and go to Father directly.
“Father Q, I know that you have many things that are demanding your time. I, too, have a lot on my plate, but volunteering some time here at St. Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite Parish has always made me feel like I’m contributing to the work of the Church. Lately, however, I just don’t feel like I’m being appreciated. And it’s not that I’m looking for money, or any public recognition or anything, but if you could let me know if what I’m doing is of any value, I’d appreciate it. And if not, is there something else I could be spending my time on. I don’t want to keep doing something that isn’t in keeping with what you want the parish to be.”