Women Who Love Priests
I felt a small tug of personal loss when author Colleen McCullough passed away last week. She was the author of a book that, in some ways, read like the story of my life. I fell in love with my priest and later married him — the same torrid forbidden love story that fuels McCullough’s classic novel. But in other ways, my story was nothing like that romance. It was more like a nightmare. I was in the middle of a breakup from an abusive, drug-addicted boyfriend when I first went to Father W for counseling ... (click here to read the rest of the post)
I had not been to church in many years and my daughter whom had been showing an interest in faith wanted to become a Catholic like me. We contacted the local church and were contacted by the new Filipino priest in town for my daughter to start RCIC classes. The priest and I got on very well and got to know each other fairly well. I was 42 and in a marriage I considered to be over and the priest was 34.
The priest started calling me when I was at home and overseas to do with minor issues. After one overseas trip I received a call from him telling me that he wanted to create a new position of secretary on the Parish Council and would I take on the position. After my first Parish Council meeting the priest asked my daughter and I out to dinner which was quite an intimate setting with the priest and I staring deeply into each other’s eyes across the table. A few days later we went to dinner again and then back to the Presbytery for a few drinks. This continued on a regular basis after each mass or prayer meeting, we would go back to the presbytery for drinks. We would also text each other until 2 or 3am on most night.
His brother and sister came over from the Philippines and we socialised more and more until early hours of the morning. When I met the sister she said “so you’re Fr. ????’S friend” – with the emphasis put strongly on the friend. The sister would take my daughter out the back so we had time together in which my priest would say things like “If a priest becomes involved with a parishioner he can no longer hear her confession, can’t give her Eucharist and she has to move to another church” all the while he would be tapping my leg under the table. He would ask me if I was his wife would I be happy with this type of life. On some occasions he would play with my feet all night under the table running his foot up my leg. He was always very affectionate with me wanting to hug and touch me, we shared our most intimate secrets with each other.
He wanted me around him all the time and we would frequently go on outings as he loved being my chauffeur and driving my car. If I was not available he would go and watch my daughter play sport and bring her home after he would pick her up if she needed a lift anywhere. He would tell me how much he was going to miss me when I went away and even sent me texts telling me he wanted a physical relationship. If we were texting and I turned my phone off I would wake to 4-5 texts from him – often trying to get me to go down to his house even at 4am. He was almost obsessive in his pursuit of me, and I enjoyed it very much.
This went on for many months with us getting closer and closer and eventually we were seeing each other 5 days/nights a week. I knew I had feelings for him but was so happy I could not pull away, I saw him as 2 separate people – the priest and my friend. I truly felt I had found the other half of me. On one trip away I missed him so much and with friends telling me it couldn’t go anywhere I text him and told him we were getting too attached. He then went into counselling and we stopped socialising but kept texting each other. When I sent him an email about our friendship not continuing he replied with “The demands of my ministry are so great at the moment …..”.
We continued to email & text and he on one occasion sent me an email telling me of his family’s financial emergency in the Philippines. I of course responded with an anonymous donation of $1000. Then things got very complicated – My marriage finally broke down and my ex-husband got hold of my phone bills and saw his number on there at all hours and starting investigating and got information from my daughter about what had gone on. He confronted the priest who denied everything. He tormented me for months about what the priest had said and eventually I confronted the priest. He denied saying the things my ex-husband had told me and when I asked him about our ‘friendship’ he told me ‘I was only playing and I behave that way with a number of women and they don’t take it the wrong way’ (I don’t know how that was possible as I took up all of his time).
When I asked him about the text saying he wanted to be intimate he replied ‘sometimes you say those things to lighten the mood’. I was devastated and could not get it from my head that this man I trusted more than any man in the world was just playing games, I had always considered myself a good judge of character but now I was unsure. Over the next few months I watched as he put other women in positions around him that were on their own or whose husbands worked away or didn’t go to church and my mind went wild. Eventually I told my ex-husband what went on and why I was not coping – we openly discussed everything. He told me I need to talk to another priest about this matter – which I did. The other priest was horrified and encouraged me to come forward. The matter is now in the hands of Profession Standards Australia who deal with these issues.
My life and the life of my family have been devastated by this whole situation and even the priest’s life is now being turned upside down by the investigation. I may never know if he really cared of if he was just a lowlife that played with women, I feel used and feel like a fool. I no longer trust priests as I believed a priest would not behave that way with a woman unless he really cared and this man acted very much like a man in love. Even a year after our friendship has ended I still feel a strong love for this man that will just not go away. I have left my family, my children, my job and my friends and ran across the other side of the country to get away and try to heal. I am unable to go into another relationship as my self-esteem is so damaged and I still have feelings for this man. I don’t know if I will ever be able to return to my family and community again or even to church again . My advice to anyone having feelings or getting involved with a priest – RUN, it will only end in heartbreak.
My priest came to us from a small town, in the Gulf Coast. He was young, and full of energy, and very enthusiastic to serve our community. He served as our Parochial Vicar, and he immediately involved himself in almost all ministries at our parish. We've never had a priest who radiated a perfect balance of holiness, care, love, kindness, and intelligence... his homilies were amazingly great, his personality magnetic, and he had a simple charm to him. He was a great man, and his presence brought many souls closer to God... He made himself available to all parishioners, and was happy to provide sacraments and blessings anytime... he didn't mind parishioners calling in the middle of the night for emergencies. He was that kind of priest... one who is always happy to serve, and genuinely giving of himself.
Because I was active in many ministries, he was forced to interact with me more than others, since he wanted to get involved in all ministries. So he would frequently call or text me with community related issues. But of course our texts and conversations would lead to more personal conversations, and soon, we developed a closeness that was uncomfortable for both of us. I am married, with children, and he was young, and never had a girlfriend before, having entered the seminary in his teens. I didn't think much of our relationship since I didn't think of myself as available and attractive, for I was much older than him. So to me, our relationship was a great friendship, which I enjoyed very much. Then somewhere along our friendship, he developed feelings for me, which when he hinted them to me, I knew I felt the same way as well, for a long time, and I was just suppressing, and I'd rather be in denial that those feelings ever existed. But one day, we somehow got the courage to admit our love for one another, and our relationship became more than just a friendship... we became lovers (without a sexual relationship, since that was a line we both did not want to cross). We took care of each other, and spent a lot of time together... Daily lunches at the park, and nights at the beach became a rountine for us... We were so deeply connected spiritually and emotionally, that our relationship progressed quickly... it seemed we were soulmates... two lost souls reuniting, and we were just happy to be in each other's presence. He would say that he felt at times, I was his brain talking to him. I too, when around him, felt so comfortable, because no one has every understood me so well. I didn't have to say much, or ask for anything... he just knew how to make me happy... he knew how to comfort me, how to care for me, and how I wanted to be loved. There was an understanding between us that I could not find anywhere else... I've never known of this happiness before him.
But from the start , I had told him clearly, that I was not leaving my family. He too, was also clear on not leaving the priesthood. He had mentioned that if we had met sooner, when I didn't have as many kids, and he was not yet solid in his vocation, he would want a future with me. But at this point in this life, he loves being a priest, and he felt God had chosen him, so he belongs to God. Our love was strong for one another, but the guilt just kept eating at both of us... to the point that one of us was always trying to break up with the other every several days... we felt so much guilt for loving each other. We didn't fight, and we've never raised our voice with each other... we got along well. But there were days we actually dedicated to "breaking up" and then days we dedicated to "making up" just because there was such a routine pattern of such actions, stirred by guilt and the fear of sinning.
One night, we got too close physically... we practically made love without crossing the final line, and we both felt guilt, and discomfort. He held my face and asked me what was wrong... and I said nothing... But of course, he knew I felt guilt, and he too, did not feel right about our actions. The next day, we talked like we normally would, and it would probably have been just another day in our relationship, if I had not asked this question: "Do you think I can receive communion today? I just don't feel right." And his answer was, "Yes, if you have the intention of going to confession as soon as possible, and say these prayers now, and do your penance now." Then I said something lke, "Really? So should I just repeat this every week now?" And he never answered me... he knew we were both so wrong in our actions...
What he did after this, was he never answered my phone calls again, and never answered my texts. Before that, I would receive a text each morning, followed by a phone call, random texts throughout the day, and then a long conversation before our good nights. But this time, he immediately went to cancel his phone number the next day, and never gave me his number again. My heart broke when I tried to call him, and realized he had cut ties from me, just like that... In the coming days, I would still see him at mass, but I would just have my face down the entire time... my heart was crying and broken... and I can feel his sadness as well. I went to see him during confession, and all he said to me was, "We have to end this. I am a family maker; not a family breaker. I am a teacher of morals... so I can't live like this. I don't want you to be the devil; and I don't want to become a scandal for the church." So he told me that we will never be able to be together again, in this life... no more talking or seeing each other, nothing.
He coped with it by being cold and distant to me... his homilies started to become personal attacks on me... he would talk about adultery, lust, and how the only pure and happy women in this world are nuns, because they are close to God. He talked about temptations, and the devil... and talked about sin and illnesses, indirectly talking about about me, and our relationship. But I did not hold any of that against him.. I knew he was trained with that mindset, and I knew his priest friend whom he confided in, would validate those thoughts. But I also knew that in his heart, he must know that I wasn't a devil, and that I loved him honestly, purely, and unintentionally... He knew I was a devout Catholic, having attended Catholic schools all my life, and going to daily mass ever since childhood... he knew I almost joined the monastery during college, but was told by my father to hold off, and discern my vocation until after I finished my education... he knew I wasn't out to sin, or cause him to sin, and that this love took me by surprise, and I fell into this by accident... yet, he attacked me in his homilies in that way. I can only think that he didn't know how to deal with his actions, and it was easier to blame it on the woman, as the devil and temptress, instead of admitting that he fell on his own, or blame that the church's teachings and views on relationships and women were somehow questionable.
But I knew he didn't mean any of that... I just know that he knew me better than to think that badly of me... so I wasn't that bothered by it for very long. I continued to miss our love, and his company, but of course, I knew I had to accept our fate, because there was really no way we could be together. I have my family, and a husband provides for me. He is not my soulmate, and he does not love me the way I want, but he is kind to me, and he is my stability. So as much as I want to just run off with my lover, I have sealed a promise in a church, and cannot go back on it... My priest too, has sealed his promise to God, and he cannot go back on that either... we both knew that we cannot be physically together, and we both felt that our hearts yearn to beat together, but it just wasn't reality.
Anyways, within just two weeks later, he announced his leaving... he said the Bishop from his old diocese asked him to return, and he will be leaving immediately. He avoided everyone, and he didn't want to say good bye to anyone. The entire congregation was shocked, and almost everyone cried that day, or in the coming days... I sensed it was coming... but I thought he would give it a little more time... But I knew if he could, he would have stayed longer... I knew that he exhausted his strength, and he could no longer function, so he had to leave. Seeing me often was either a distraction or a temptation that he no longer wanted to face... he aged so much within weeks, and loss so much weight... he became unavailable to parishioners, and he started to distant himself from everyone (everyone... literally, he cut all ties from people he would normally interact with in the parish, and he started to not return phone calls, even when the calls were communal and not personal). He just dropped everything when our relationship ended... to me, it seemed like he too, slipped into a depression, and was no longer able to function normally at our parish.
The day he left, I got to spend close to two hours with him. We talked, as we watched the movers load his stuff onto the moving truck. He told me that he has to leave, to protect his vocation, and he has to return me to my family... being around me was too much of a temptation for him. He told me that there was no future for us... that I belong to another man. It rained that day... and it almost never rains in sunny southern California... but mild showers fell. I felt God crying with us... and blessing us at the same time. It was painful for both of us, and it was God's way of showing us that He felt for us, and He promises blessings in the future, for this pain and sacrifice today.
My priest is a wonderful man... he is holy, kind, loving, caring, gentle, funny, and just perfect. When together, he would often talk about a sacrificial love... he wanted me to understand that... that sometimes loving means letting go, and loving means leaving. I know that it wasn't easy for him to end our relationship; he wouldn't have suffered so much, and acted the way he did, if it wasn't painful for him to leave me. I know that my pain and suffering cannot compare to his... and I know he thought for us, for our souls, when he made the decision to end everything. I miss him dearly, but I know there is a greater purpose for him, and I should not hold him back from it. God chose him, and has invested much in him... my love cannot compare to God's love for him, and I just have to trust that God will take care of him, and God is guiding him... I don't know when I'll heal from this... how can I heal... I died inside when he left. Even if I pretend to function normally outside, a piece of my heart is no longer there. He's thousands of miles away, and I'll probably never see him again. He is my soulmate, making my heart smile in ways it has never smiled before. I'll just go on and continue to pray for his happiness... I pray that God hug him goodnight for me each night, and hold him when he feels alone... I hope God will provide him with all the love and care I hope to give him, but cannot... He is missed, and loved, always.
Of Men and Women and the Truth about Religion
It is written that the Lord made woman the glory of the man and she was made specifically for him. (I Corinthians 11:7-9) and yet the church’s political manoeuvring has painted woman as the enemy for the purpose of confusing, weakening and controlling priests and casting his greatest strength into the role of adversary.
The frustrating thing is that once you are in love with someone, you can’t stop loving them. We don’t seem to be the ones who choose with whom we fall in love and it isn’t something that a normal person can turn on and off like a switch. If you’re in love with someone who is caught in a spiritual trap, you are effectively caught in the trap with them, albeit in a different section, sealed off from the one you love and for whom you are now sacrificing your life. You might even be blamed, perhaps by many, for putting you both there. Once it has happened, it can’t un-happen.
Romantic love between two people is a warm, powerful, intoxicating, addictive experience that brings life to your whole being. To fall in love with someone who shares enough with you for you to become addicted and then who purposely turns into ice and cuts you off (and perhaps does this a number of times) is to live through a cruel, disempowering, agonizingly frustrating experience that brings a certain death to both involved.
Despite religious teaching, God does not have a religion. He never did and he never will. Religion is the most powerful political tool ever invented by man. People + money = power. That is why the battle to keep people within the confines of a religion is fierce. As history clearly shows, nothing is off limits.
I was watching a program recently about Islam and a woman said that the real trouble is when man makes religion a profession. Previously, even scholars of religion, all had other professions. When priesthood is made a profession, the financial and political survival of the institution becomes paramount and the priest becomes an intermediary between God and man. The truth is, before God, we are all equal and the position of intermediary belongs only to Jesus.
The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful religious machines on earth and it is no wonder that many people, including priests, never understand the true dynamics in operation. Many of Catholicism’s traditions are in direct opposition to the word of God. The odd thing is, clerics often know this and are even aware of the corruption within the church – and let’s face it, you don’t have to look very hard. However I spoke to a former Mother Superior who had left the church and she said, the process can take years but eventually, you just can't live the lie any longer.
In a discussion with Henry on this subject, he put it so well I quote:
Separating the will of God from the ecclesiastical institution is a real challenge for some people because they have been conditioned to equate God and his will with the Church. The object of belief is not so much God, when it gets down to the brass tacks within Catholicism, the object of belief is the Church, which is why so many people suffer when confronted with the screwed up system that it is. They find themselves looking at a false idol and are not sure what to do with it. The process of movement from perceiving God to be found through that highly mediated system, to finding an unmediated relationship with God, is both frightening and freeing. But it is not easy for people to take responsibility for an unmediated faith upon themselves when they have been taught otherwise. One of the successes of Catholicism is the attraction of the concreteness of God present in the institution. It makes it tangible, but the down side is horrendous as so many have experienced.
The Catholic Catechism, the primary Catholic teaching tool which is openly placed above the authority of the bible underpins the man-made, patriarchal, hierarchical administrative structure within the church. Priests are kept in line and women in positions of no consequence. If a priest falls in love with a woman, to God, it is the ultimate union; a union which strengthens the man and has great potential to bring glory to God. Focus on God though, takes the authority away from the church and threatens the institution’s resources on a number of levels. The Catholic religious machine quickly steps in and paints the woman and her love as an object associated with Satan – an enemy to be frozen out - teaching the priest techniques for banishing her from his heart and mind. Every priest is brain-washed with ‘Your focus is to be the church, the church, the church. Follow the great teachings of St Augustine and subjugate your sexuality into service within the church.’
There are some wonderful lines in The Iron Lady, the movie about Margaret Thatcher’s life, which mirror the difficulty faced by women in the church. She says ‘Getting men to respect me as a leader is like asking them to be led into battle by their chambermaid’. In other words, there is a general belief that women are weak and do not have the strength to hold a powerful position. And yet, in another situation, women are portrayed by the church as a powerful and evil force to be fought against and overthrown at any cost. In the movie, a high-ranking official intimates that Margaret Thatcher has never been to war but she says ‘With all due respect, I have been in battle every day of my life’.
Originally when I sat down to write this, I didn't know how it was going to read. For many this will seem like a teenage like crush. However, at my age, with a divorce now behind me I feel that I know the difference between love and infatuation. So here it is:
I met this Priest when some years ago when he was assigned as the new Pastor of our Parish at a church in the Northwest. He was in his 50's, tall, balding and thin. I was in my mid 40's, married with children in the Parish school. The day I was introduced to him in the office was so monumental to me you would have thought that time stood still.It certainly seemed to and I had an immediate sense of 'uh-oh this is trouble'. The physical attraction to him was strong it was undeniable.It felt like a magnet. I was simply drawn to him like no other man I have ever known. However, that same introduction was so unremarkable to him that he never ever even knew my name. All he knew was that I had children in the school. Because the attraction to him was so strong I did my best to stay away from him. I began attending a Parish nearby where I knew I would not accidentally run into him. That denial on my part worked out well as I could secretly love him while not ever confronting the pain of not being able to be with him. Over the years, I had many interactions with him at the church and school and got to know and love the person that he is/was. He was a remarkable man who seemed much younger than his years.Occasionally I would attend one of the church functions and would see him. These were usually large gatherings of the parish where he would go from table to table talking with parishioners. What I noticed is that when he was talking to a young, attractive woman say under 40 his eyes would light up. He seemed to have an enormous amount of sexual energy. But if I saw him interact with a man or an older woman, he had an interested but not sexual look in his eyes. This watching him went on for years. I think I would have been content for this to go on forever.
When he announced that he was being transferred I was shocked. I immediately wondered what he had done wrong to deserve this. But for whatever reason, it seemed to be a routine transfer(if there is such a thing) and off he went several months later to another parish. Only then did I tell him how much I had loved him.By then my kids were older, my marriage crumbling and I was questioning the wisdom of having run away all those years. He responded by saying that other women had fallen in love with him and he just didn't know how to handle it.I felt that this was an honest and fair response. Later when he returned for a visit to the parish he completely avoided seeing me while visiting with virtually every one else in the parish.However for his part, I will say that he never did or said anything that could have been misconstrued. Unrequited love is the oldest story of all or maybe I simply wasn't _________ pretty, rich, sexy(insert word there) enough to be his friend.
Though I am still in contact with him, the letters are few and far between now. He is busy with his new life and I have tried to move on also. Though I have loved him for years my feelings certainly have not died. If they ever allow priests to marry and he is interested in me I would abandon all my children, job and community to be with him. I suspect that he is unhappy in his new Parish as this is a large parish with several priests and he is now subordinate to someone else.I read once that if you ever find yourself loving a priest to run not walk away from that situation. I agree that it is painful...and worth it? Probably not. I think it is probably true that we don't get to chose who we love in life because I would never have chosen this!
Here’s my story. This priest and I met when I was 35 and he was 40, and we have been friends for 22 years. I thought he was a wonderful person. I did not think of him as a potential mate or lover, but just as a friend whose company I truly enjoyed. I always felt safe with him and I still do. I remember waking up one night nearly ten years after we had met, sitting straight up in bed as if I had been struck by a bolt of lightning, and exclaiming out loud, “Oh, Shit! I’m in love with him!” I was very angry with God, thinking that this was very cruel. I kept it to myself.
He was placed in a position that was not really suited to him, but he was good at raising money and that’s what they wanted. I watched him as he was pressured and attacked. It was an unhealthy situation, and I became very angry, seeing him abused like that. After he had two episodes of atrial fibrillation, requiring defibrillation to restore regularity to his heartbeat, I spoke up and said, “Enough is enough!” They would have killed him. It didn’t seem to matter to them that he was being exploited and was under great pressure.
Just after he turned 50, he came to visit for a day, and we took a walk along the beach. He was talking about marriage, saying that people couldn’t be expected to be held to decisions that they made at the age of 20, when they had not had much experience with life. I said to him, reflectively, honestly and with no particular motivation, that the same could be said of priests. And then, all of a sudden, I was being verbally attacked by a person who had always been kind and supportive to me. He told me that I gave my power away. I was stunned and saddened, turned away and began to cry. I had unintentionally hurt him, and I knew that it was really he who had given away his power.
Later that day, while driving, I caught his eye in the rear view mirror. “It’s real,” I said. “Tough,” he replied. These are the exact words we used; we really didn’t speak of this feeling of love between us. When he responded with “tough”, I sensed this is how he had been treated when growing up when he experienced something emotionally painful, i.e., “be tough and get over it.” Emotions such as love were unimportant and many men are told to be tough. I knew we were not going to discuss this even though he had just flown over a 1,000 miles to see me for a day, when I had told him the ball was in his court, meaning he would decide what would come next. He came, and then he got afraid. Any way I will never forget that two word exchange. And “tough”, turned out to be one of the greatest understatements that I have ever heard in my life. I was hard to understand, to process, and to live with, at that time I wanted to talk about what had upset him so much, and he didn’t want to go there. I never asked him to leave the priesthood or to be with me. I was concerned about his unhappiness with his life and about his being treated so badly. Months later he told me that I was making him question everything, to which I replied, “Good!” I was thinking that questioning and reflection are healthy and good, especially when one is unhappy.
One day, out of the blue, he said, “Don’t you know that if things had been different we would have had a bunch of rug-rats by now?” Actually, I didn’t know. The question took me by surprise, and I thought it was terribly unfair of him to put a hook in my heart and yank it like that.
Later that same day, he told me that “our relationship was brief, meaningful and intermittent.” That actually made me very angry because he made it sound like an affair, and we did not have an affair. Maybe he thought he was being thoughtful and letting me know that, in some way, I was special to him, but I thought it was extremely disrespectful. The reality was that we had always had a very respectable relationship. I suddenly realized that he was getting a lot of static because of his relationship with me. The whole situation was sad.
Later that year he told me that he had made his “decision”, he didn’t say about what, we really didn’t speak openly about it, but I knew he meant about being a priest, again I was surprised because I didn’t even know it was a consideration, was so surprised and hurt I didn’t know what to say. So I said, “Well, at least you got the opportunity to make a decision.” He had entered the seminary at the age of 12, having a choice at that age really wasn’t and option. I was thinking to myself that I never asked him to leave—we never even had that kind of relationship. As far as I was concerned, we would have had to become acquainted in another way before we could have even considered such a thing. As time went by, it got to be uncomfortable, and I finally decided that the kindest thing would be to go away and leave him alone, for I had become a problem, and the last thing I wanted to do was to add to his problems.
Eight years passed; he is now 62 years old and I, 57. I really can’t say why, but I wanted to see him. Over the years I had looked for news about him, what was going on in his life and how he was doing. I was saddened as I saw how he had aged. They had broken him. When he saw me sitting in the pews during Mass I could see his face and eyes looking back at me, not quite sure at first if it was really me. After all, I had aged too. After Mass, as I shook his hand, I could see how happy he was to see me. I was stunned by the flood of emotions that I experienced. At first, I was angry. His body and spirit were broken, as I had feared would happen. But I was so very glad to see him again. I had forgotten how nice it was to be near him.
A few weeks later we had coffee after Mass. Conversing with him, I was stunned as I realized how immature he was. My thought was that they had not only clipped his wings sexually, but emotionally as well. After all, he went into the seminary at the age of 12. I sincerely believe that leaving the priesthood would thrust him into a world about which he really knows very little and with which is ill prepared to cope. I do love him, absolutely. I have never loved anyone like this in my life. I love him as much as I love myself. I want what is best for him.
Here is my reflection about the priestly sexual scandals being revealed in today’s world. You don’t have affairs with people you love. Affairs are not” loving”. They are exploitive, the opposite of “loving”. Does he love me? Yes, in his own fashion I know that he does. Will we ever be together? Most likely not. Time and time again I have watched him run away whenever he gets scared, and now that I see his immaturity I understand that better. Would I ask him to leave the priesthood? No, I would not, and honestly I never would have, had it gotten to the point where I felt that he was actually considering it. I know I would have challenged him more than his fellow priests did. I’ve always understood how difficult it would be for him and wouldn’t want him to do anything to hurt himself in any way.
This love is genuine. For me, it has been long, enduring and meaningful. Would I marry him if he asked me? Let’s just say, he might find that it wouldn’t be that simple. We would have to spend some time together with him out of the priesthood for me to even get to the point where I MIGHT consider marriage with him. If we did marry it would be very nice and difficult at the same time. I think he would always feel conflicted inside, but we both light up when we are around each other; no one has ever made me feel happier, and more beautiful. Even as I grow old, it seems as though I am not older in his eyes, it is the reflection of our inner beauty that makes us light up. I remember many years ago, late Christmas night after the day was done, I called him and his line was busy, because he was calling me.
I have written this, intending that it should be posted. It is important. Many simply do not understand the dynamics. Since my experience has spanned so many years, there is a depth and insight that may be of help to others, especially women.
I was lucky in many ways because I was not exploited.
I have been examining this relationship quite a bit. Looking back, perhaps I should have taken a stronger stand, but I felt that he needed to make his own choices, so I stepped back, not realizing the tremendous pressure that was put on him by his organization. They broke him, they broke his will and spirit to serve their purposes, and it breaks my heart to see how isolated he has become. His ministry to families is transparently a form of voyeurism—in some small way, it makes him feel connected to the world.
Truly loving him, for me began with forgiving him for being human, he runs away every time he doesn’t really know what to do. People project many things on priests, forgetting that they are human just like the rest of us. It creates a large gap between clergy and laity. And because I was so frightened for how I saw him being used to the point that it was impacting his health and well being. I began to pray for his protection, like I had never prayed before, at times I would suddenly start crying and I knew they were his tears, the tough ones he kept inside. I moved into a dimension of love I had never experienced before, it was not infatuation, or lust or even friendship it was a deep tie, where I actually cared for him as much as I cared for myself, I had never experienced it before, but I can tell you it is very profound.
I think that when priests find a woman/person that they can connect with, it is a blessing and unexpected joy. I sense that he has often struggled with how to handle his feelings and mine.
He feels an overwhelming responsibility to the priesthood. They educated him, and in many ways they are his family, but he is not happy being a priest. It is sad to watch him struggle with his sense of obligation to the commitment he made to the priesthood, especially now, as the number of priests dwindles.
I struggle with how to be an appropriate, loving and supportive presence to a human being whose emotional life is adrift. It’s as if he is on an iceberg, isolated in many ways, starving for affirmation and for a sense of belonging.
In the journey of life we walk alongside of others, and at times we walk alone.
By the nature of my profession I want to alleviate suffering. I learned long ago that that isn’t always possible. Sometimes all that one can do is to be there. I have no answers, just my story and my insights. I hope it will be of some help to others. I am glad to have a place to write it down to say the things we never said out loud, to acknowledge that it is Real…this is my gift to him.
I fell in love with my parish priest and kept my feelings hidden for a long time (close to 2 years), prayed to God to please take them from me as I knew it was pointless and fruitless, but the heart won out over the head time and time again. I told myself my feelings could not be sinful, yet I still suffered great pain. My heart ached and longed for his presence. He was to me the perfect man, possessing all the qualities I had ever wanted, problem was he wore a Roman Collar. His kindness, friendliness, charm and wit overwhelmed my very soul. I knew I was in trouble. We had similar working class and ethic backgrounds, same sense of humor. We worked in several ministries together and he counseled me a few times, but nothing inappropriate ever happened. At times I caught him gazing at me, and I could not get over feeling that perhaps he had also felt attracted. I felt he truly appreciated my kindness and love of the Catholic faith. At our last counseling session (there were a total of 3) I told him how much I admired him and how much I appreciated his kindness, help and compassion and also how sad I and several others would be should he be transferred. I gave him a small token that said “You are Loved” a general, not personal, acknowledgement of how all of us at the parish felt for him as a priest and shepherd of our church. But of course, I am sure he sensed I had very personal feelings. He acted very awkward almost like a school kid. I gave him a really big hug and held on for a long time---he did not push me away though.
Not two weeks later he made the announcement at mass that he was being transferred, and very, very far away too. Coincidence? I remember my knees buckling under me and I felt like I was going to faint. I was absolutely devastated, went home and wrote him a very long letter revealing my feelings, which I personally handed to him the next day in the sacristy after daily mass. This later proved to be a big mistake for my emotional and spiritual well-being. At the time though I wanted the burden off my heart, but instead I just put it on him. Earlier that year he had helped me with my annulment, and when I handed him that letter in a sealed envelope (he must have sensed it was personal) he said "I hope you find yourself a real nice man".
I knew I should have run away from such intense feelings. He never once led me on or did anything inappropriate, but after having been extremely friendly to me prior to this, he suddenly backed off, which did indeed hurt me very much. That marvelous smile of his never came my way again.
He never acknowledged that letter, my feelings, any future emails, birthday or holiday wishes. He simply dropped all communication. For almost 2 months I looked in the mail for a thank you note, as I gifted him with money and homemade prayer cards when he left. What a fool I was. (Other priests that have left always sent thank you notes to me for gifts--I just couldn't believe he didn't even have the common courtesy to do this) I was devastated. When other family and work problems came into my life later on, I asked for his prayers but he never answered me. This killed me.
I will never ever know if he ever felt any tender feelings for me…and yes I did want just a tiny piece of his heart. I was terribly lonesome and had gone through a lot of rejection and heartache in my life. I miss him terribly. I suppose I will always hold feelings for him. It is the most painful thing I have ever gone through and I feel like he died.
I chose my words very carefully in that letter, as I did not want to offend in any way. Henry, as a former priest, how do you think my letter might have been received?
(You can see more of this discussion on the blog under "Women Who Love Priests".
The man I was involved with left the priesthood and still could not get himself emotionally together. I have spent too long talking with other women who have been involved with priests, too long reading testimonies from women, and far too long observing the behavior of men in the priesthood to accept that there is not a psychological profile that fits probably a majority of men in the Catholic priesthood.
Lucy, the guy you were involved with was an emotionally damaged individual who acted like he was a frightened teenage boy. He was not a mature grown up man – that is why he fled. He had a “crush” on you and then ran away – what would be, about 14 year old behavior? Sounds about right to me. This is only one aspect of what their lives do to them. Fleeing situations is typical of many of them. For someone on here to refer to you and him as “holy” because of this result would be hilarious if it were not more accurately a tragic denial of this retarded way of behaving.
The problem for women is that they have to deal with these emotionally retarded guys who flee at the first sign of having to admit any involvement in a relationship. Lucy is not by any means alone in her experience – pity the women whose relationships have advanced to sex and pregnancy and then get abandoned by these emotionally immature scaredy-cats. This abandonment is often done with the support of the church in the person of the bishop.
You asked for women who have had experience with involvement with priests to come on here and express opinions and I am trying to give you that. Priests ought to know and learn that there is enormous responsibility that goes along with an emotional relationship with a woman – especially one that goes on for some time. You shouldn't just flirt and flee.
If you would like to comment on these posts, please click HERE and go to the blog. You may need to scroll down to "Women Who Love Priests". At the end of that post, click on "comment" to share your views.
If you would like to submit a post about your experience of loving a priest, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.