Dear Spiritual Fathers,

In the crazy world we live in today, and all the stuff we hear on the news, it can be easy to take for granted the impact the great priests/deacons/religious brothers have in our lives. So what I wanted to say today is thank you.

From saying Mass, celebrating the sacraments, other daily duties within your busy schedule and caring for yourself, I honestly do not know how you do it all. You truly are an example of God's endless love and kindness here on earth. Thank you. I hope you know that we are forever grateful for all you do. Thank you.

I have been privileged throughout my life to meet many great priests. The best I could ever know right within my own parish. I know I would not be who I am today without them. They are filled with so much energy, joy, and love, I am often left in awe. Continually, they encourage me to become a better, holier, and more faith-filled person. I hope you realize the effect that you have had on many of us as it is contagious. All the energy you put into the Church, we, in turn, put into our faith. There are really no words to truly do it justice. For those of us who do not have the best relationship with our fathers, it means the world to be shown what fatherhood is supposed to be like whether it be through the Gospel, your example, or your amazing homilies. You give us hope. The lessons you teach us, we will take for life.

Thank you for all the sacrifices you make, laying your life down for the church. Thank you for being there at the jails, hospitals, burial sites, schools, graduations, confessionals, retreats, and countless other community events. Thank you for sticking with us through our mistakes. Thank you for grieving with us during the loss of a loved one to being there when two families become one. Thank you for being a shining example for those discerning their vocation.

Thank you for taking the extra time to talk to each and every person who comes up to you after Mass. Thank you for the jokes and stories during your homilies that make us laugh until our cheeks hurt. Thank you for dealing with the endless questions some of us have. Thank you for giving us all a good laugh when you agree to race down a bouncy slide and smile for a silly selfie. And although it seems small, thank you for knowing all of our names.

I know many are mad at the Church right now. I will say that it is rightfully so. But for those of you who are guilty of nothing, I am sorry. Many times we forget that such news hurts you as much as it hurts us. I can only imagine how it must feel to have the weight of your cross grow heavier with the unearned suspicion of unutterable things. What you have endured is heartbreaking. I know you endure it all out of a love of God. Thank you for your perseverance, steadfast faith, and leadership in these times of struggle.

Perhaps most of all, thank you for walking beside us, WITH us, guiding us on our spiritual journeys. Through your own genuine humanity, you remind us that no matter who we are and what we do, we are all only humans who will mess up and make mistakes. You remind us that we are more similar than not. Thank you for reminding us that we can be forgiven and strive to become better. Thank you for keeping it real.

You really are an inspiration. Thank you for being the blessing so many of us need in our lives. Please know that we pray for you as much as you pray for all of us.

Thank you for saying yes to your vocation.

Most sincerely,

A Grateful Daughter in Christ