Showing Gratitude While Saying Goodbye: Sending off a Beloved Priest

“Family Meeting!” my wife called out, with her smartphone in hand. The last time she reacted this way to a text our beloved Monsignor had died. I followed.

“Our priest has been reassigned to a new seminary. He reports July first.” To the gasp of our family, she continued, “Unfortunately, there will be no reception.” Wait. We’re losing our priest? I was in shock.

We weren’t alone. This past May, the Dallas Diocese transferred 26 pastors from their home parishes. As older priests retired, younger ones moved to fill their vacancies. It’s something that happens frequently at Catholic parishes throughout the world. Transfers help large dioceses support new priests who joined their first parishes. When a priest from Africa needed pastoral experience, our pastor, Rev. James Yamauchi, was moved to Holy Trinity Seminary.

I was confused. Father James? Not now! Then, I prayed to the Holy Spirit. “Help me. Let me know what to do next.” And his answer came: Google it.

Are you losing your pastor or priest? Read how I got through it. Then, choose activities you feel comfortable doing.

Pray for priests.

While praying, I thought about Father James’ first homily. He told our parish, “When I preach to you, I’m also preaching to myself.” Remembering this humility, I committed to praying for him.I knew following through on prayer promises wasn’t my strength. So, I used my phone’s recorder and made up spontaneous prayers for him and our new pastor. Then, I kept my word, listening and then reciting each on my daily walk or drive.

RELATED: Digital Gratitude: 5 Ways to Give Thanks Online

Make him a snack.

Is your priest busy preparing for the move? Surprise him with something homemade! I gave Father James an in-between meetings snack by baking him something sweet and healthy. Voila! Cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious. His thank you card said they didn’t last long in the rectory.

Write a letter.

Revive the dying art of letter-writing for your beloved priest. Father James had to see he was Christ-like to me. In my letter, I shared how he helped me grow spiritually, particularly in Confession. His examples and encouragement showed me how to release a stubborn vice. Mentioning these specifics individualized my letter. Plus, who doesn’t love a letter of appreciation?

RELATED: Fatherly Advice: Discerning Priesthood

Contact his bishop.

As a customer, you might feel compelled to tell a manager about an excellent experience with their employee. Why should it be different for a favorite priest? Upon hearing of our priest’s relocation, I sent a note to our local bishop letting him how much Father meant to us. I shared a story of going to hear our pastor speak at a conference. There, I met a friend who also traveled to hear him. Jokingly, she elbowed. “You stole my priest.” Who knew Father had a fan club? You bet the bishop laughed.

Make a donation in his honor.

Make an honorary contribution to a Catholic charity in the name of your priest. Pick a cause you or your priest feels passionate about. Father was in the middle of building our new church, so giving to this project was a perfect parting gift. Does your priest have a parish project? Donate to it.

RELATED: Donating Differently: Remembering the Human Impact When I Give

Use your gifts.

Use your talent. Create something — a card, a story, a work of art — for your priest. This article is my special gift for Father James. He was there for me when I started my writing venture. Although Father was a busy man, he still read and complimented me on my articles.

Remember, God gave you talents. Glorify Him. Honor your pastor by giving of yourself.