Over the years I have noticed an evolution in the circumstances of our presbyterate which, whether we have heeded it or not, has undoubtedly wrought existential changes in the life of your average priest. Growing up, there were usually two priests, often three, in a parish. Now priests are largely solitary. As a priest friend of mine remarked a few years ago, this means that it is easy for the good ones to work themselves to death with no one to tell them to take a day off, it’s similarly easy for others to descend into darkness, error, alcoholism, etc.
A priest is a father and as such, for most of us who take our faith seriously, he commands a certain degree of paternal respect. He is someone who you go to for advice, for wisdom, for succour when things are so bad you can’t cope anymore.
But who does he go to? Do you know your priest well enough to be able to say who his friends are? That he has a hot meal? That his heating works?