Have you invited your parish priest for Thanksgiving dinner?

As you’re preparing your holiday meals and gatherings, don’t forget to include your parish priest in your guest list. He might be spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with his family, but he might have be alone on the holiday without anywhere to go. Extending an invitation to him could mean a lot to him, and it could also make a difference in the spiritual life of your family.

“In so many ways, being able to come into the home of a parishioner is a privilege because you get to see the dynamics and see how God is at work within that small community that makes up the much greater community of the family. So for me, it’s always a privilege and a pleasure,” says Fr. Larry Evans, a speaker and priest of the Archdiocese of Newark and regular contributor to Morning Air®.

He acknowledges that sometimes people get nervous at the thought of their priest coming over for dinner. “I think sometimes people get a little nervous or uncomfortable because in this day and age, they still sort of put us on a pedestal and at a distance. So they’re not quite sure how do I approach Father, how do I deal with Father?”

Remember that your parish priest is a normal guy, and you don’t need to spend your entire dinner talking about God. “We do normal things like more anybody else. We have a normal life, we have families,” says Fr. Evans. Maybe your priest is interested in sports, music, literature, current events, movies, or a variety of other topics. Get to know him by engaging in conversation.

“In this country, where we have so many foreign-born priests or priests like myself – I’m from a different state than New Jersey, my family is about four hours away – we don’t get to spend holidays with our families,” explains Fr. Evans. He asks for us to think of our priests as regular people and friends and not leave them out of our celebrations.

Not only does your invitation mean a lot to your priest, but it might be a great thing for your family. “When you go into a person’s home, people – especially kids – say, ‘Wow, he’s pretty cool. He’s normal!’ … And then they come to church and they see church in a different light because the guy standing up there isn’t so foreign to them. It’s like, I can relate to him now!” And that may even lead to a future vocation. When your kids are able to see the humanity and even normalcy of priests and religious, that vocation isn’t such a scary thing anymore.

“I think it’s more important that people learn that sometimes the minister needs to be ministered to, and to be invited with a family is an honor and a privilege for us,” says Fr. Evans.

Listen to the full podcast here: Fr. Larry Evans on Morning Air

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.