Why I Am A Priest: Thirty Success Stories, edited by Lawrence Boadt CSP and Michael J. Hunt CSP (Paulist Press, New York, 1999, RRP $17.95. Available from AD Books)
With the media constantly portraying priests as pedophiles or as anti-gay, anti-contraceptive, out-of-date, "old" men, Why I Am a Priest comes as a breath of fresh air. It is a book of thirty success stories of priests who love being priests.
Each of the thirty priests has written a short story on why he became a priest and why he is still a priest.
The stories differ, of course, but they all have similar themes running through them: their love of the Church, of the Pope, of the Holy Eucharist and of prayer are clearly evident in each of the stories.
The reasons these priests give for continuing to live their priesthood are also similar: the people they serve, the Eucharist they celebrate, and God's continuing call.
As Fr Lawrence Boadt says in the Introduction, "Ultimately, priesthood is not so much a work for the Church, as a life in and of the Church." All of the writers have discovered this in their vocation.
A prominent American churchman, who is quoted in the Introduction, describes the dignity of priesthood very well: "We are not indispensable 'functionaries' in the Church; we are bridges to the very mystery of God and healers of the soul."
Katie Lindorff is a Melbourne Catholic writer.