firstname.lastname@example.org is looking for stories of your favorite priests! Here's mine:
I have a lot of favorite priests because God has always used priests to help me spiritually throughout my life, especially in Confession. I can't say I have a lot of "buddy" priests, but various priests have really been pastors to me at different times and in different places. I move around a lot, but God always provides wise and holy priests to guide me wherever I am.
My favorite priest is probably Fr. Michael D'Cruz, OFM, 75, presently the pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was my confessor for five years and gave me much good advice. He is originally from India, and I am good friends with members of his family who are in Toronto also. He served in Pakistan--a very difficult mission.
We Daughters of St. Paul run bookstores, and St. Charles Church is two doors down from our bookstore in Toronto. It was like having a bookstore chaplain with Fr. Michael so close and so available. We could send people to him for counseling and confession any time.
When Fr. Michael said he would pray for you, he meant he would offer a Mass for you and pray to Our Lady for you, or before the Blessed Sacrament. He had very simple, strong faith. People would often get healed after Father promised to pray for them. We had the "Queen of Apostles Charismatic Prayer Group" meeting in the basement of the convent, andn Father served as one of our chaplains there, also. Toronto is a very ethnically-diverse city, and Fr. Michael related so well and was so welcoming to everyone.
Fr. Michael gave me such a good example of someone with their priorities straight: God first, then people, then everything else--if you get to it. When I would be frazzled and busy, he used to tell me: "Leave your heart at the tabernacle and then enter the fray."
I remember two other excellent confessors, one from Italy, Fr. Mario, and one from Cameroon, Fr. Rolland (who is now a bishop)--both who spoke English as a second language. At different times, they would help me complete my confession by virtually "reading my soul," using highly nuanced English words that I was thinking of at that moment, but hadn't said yet!
OK--last story. I had a very serious health crisis three years ago and almost died. It was a dark night of the body and soul. It took me over a year to recover. Right after the worst was over, I went to Confession. I was so confused. Up was down and down was up. Nothing made sense. The experience of ALMOST dying threw me for a loop, and had been a very bad experience all around. And I felt like I had handled it all so badly. I began my Confession about things I probably had no need of confessing, and the older Augustinian I was confessing to stopped me in my tracks. "Sister, Sister! We're human! When we die, we're going to die as humans! Right in the middle of all our stuff with everthing unfinished and words not said and mistakes made and people will have to clean up all our messes!" He was so jolly and reassuring. He gave me absolution, and that was the beginning of my ascent back to hope that I still return to as a touchstone.
Thank God for all our seminarians, priests and bishops!