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2014 March 13
by Gordon Reid

When I retire  later this year, I am going to offer myself to any seminary willing to have me       as Professor of Priestcraft!

Our seminarians learn Greek and Hebrew, Liturgy, Church History, Old and New Testament, and many other very necessary things. But I have noticed that an awful lot of them emerge from seminary without a clue how to be a priest. That is appalling, considering that their parishes and Bishops and others helped them to go to seminary just for that purpose.

My Priestcraft professorial syllabus will contain many splendid things of which these are but a few of the more obvious:

How to say Mass. How to vest decently. The name and use of everything at the altar or in the sacristy. High Mass, Sung Mass, Low Mass, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. Eastward facing, facing the people, North end. Mattins and Evensong, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross etc etc.

Preaching. How to write sermons. How to preach from notes. How to preach with no notes. How to preach to children/ city councillors/ clergy conferences/ that maddening woman who suggests stupid subjects. Retreat addresses.

How to hear confessions. Suitable penances. When to withhold absolution. General services of Penance and Absolution. How to stop penitents from gossiping about their neighbours (or using the Box to get at you!)

Visiting parishioners in their homes. Hospital visiting. Anointing the Sick. Training lay people to carry the  Sacrament to shut-ins.

(I’ll be on shaky ground on this one, but I know someone who will write most of my lecture notes for this – you know who you are!) Designing and maintaining a web site. Building up a Friends of the Parish organization. How to use it to raise millions of dollars and to get all wills changed to leave you (I mean the parish!) the residue. Recording sermons, music, Vestry meetings (no, I’m kidding!).etc.

Days off and months off and Sabbaticals will also be covered, as will singing, and  avoiding Liturgical dance and long banners on bendy poles.

I have no doubt the seminaries will soon be lining up to hire me. My long experience of Priestcraft will come in handy when choosing which one to go to – I’ll go to the highest bidder!


7 Responses leave one →
  1. Canon Precentor permalink
    March 13, 2014

    Excellent idea, Father, but I promise you no one will hire you. The skills you offer are not deemed worthy of acquisition in today’s messy Church and with one or two exceptions (let the reader understand) seminaries are too busy teaching liberal, unitarian, humanism to have room for the practical professorship you suggest.

  2. Brian permalink
    March 13, 2014

    Southern Europe…..even Gibraltar…..NEEDS you back! Away from the snow……

  3. Garth permalink
    March 13, 2014

    I would certainly take your class!

  4. March 13, 2014

    I would have hired you in seminary. This is a fine idea.

  5. March 19, 2014

    This is such a sound idea. Even some first curacies would not begin to cover the necessary material you suggest. Well done!

  6. Martin Brynildsen permalink
    March 21, 2014

    Canon Reid,
    First of all, I think your idea of offering your service for courses in “Priestcraft” (spiritual and practical) is quite wonderful. You would, no doubt, be a learned and valuable facilitator in so many of the areas you speak of. In fairly recent years, I’m sure Nashotah House might have welcomed an interview. Not sure today…not in as close a touch with them as I used to be. Of course, there was a time, in the not too distant past, when many other Episcopal seminaries would gladly have spoken with you (General, Seabury Western, etc.). These days I suppose they have much greater priorities, sadly, than to show much concern for “Priestcraft.”
    Maybe I’m being a bit presumptuous, but I would (perhaps foolishly) suggest that you contact Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson at the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter ( at the Parish of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston). As our training of priests (old and newly converted) develops, I should think that your inquiry would prove interesting.

  7. Norman permalink
    March 13, 2016

    Great idea! I would totally have taken your class in seminary, and could still use a few tips from your extensive list of suggested topics.

    Hit up VTS. Solid seminary, nice faculty housing.

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