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Giving thanks to my fellow priests quietly doing good work | READER COMMENTARY

The Rev. Richard Lawrence, left, celebrating Mass in Baltimore with the Rev. Charles "Father Chuck" Canterna. File. (Baltimore Sun handout)

While I enjoy and appreciate articles in The Baltimore Sun and The Catholic Review about newly ordained priests with interesting back stories, I feel for my brother priests who have quietly dedicated their lives in service to the Catholic Church and to the good people they love and serve day after day, for years and decades, most of the time in quiet anonymity (”‘I couldn’t be happier’: Lifetime of service leads Naval Academy graduate to become Anne Arundel priest,” Aug. 8). Trust me, any positive press about Roman Catholic priests is reason to rejoice after the years of negative press we have endured. I recognize that much of that negative press is well deserved, but the vast majority of my brother priests go about their work with grace, integrity and competence.

I think about pastors who struggle to keep city parishes alive long after the age of retirement. I think about one of our priests who donated a kidney to someone he barely knew. I think about priests who have struggled to gain a working knowledge of Spanish so they can celebrate Sacraments and provide pastoral presence and care to our Spanish speaking Catholics. I think of priests who have faced the monumental task of caring for, renovating and maintaining long neglected church buildings so that their parishes can continue and advance their mission. I think of priests who are roused from much needed sleep in the dark of night to be at the side of a dying parishioner and their family. Most of our priests go about their daily ministry without expectation of reward or publicity. I continue to be moved and inspired and often motivated by their dedication.

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To the newly ordained, I say thank you. To those with interesting backgrounds, I say thank you. To my brother priests who do not have glowing articles in local publications and full color photos on printed pages, I say thank you. Your dedication and endurance is a gift to the Church and those in your loving care.

— Rev. Lawrence M. Johnson, M.Div., Timonium

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The writer is director of pastoral care at Stella Maris, Inc.

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