Addressing the clergy
Tom Monaghan writes that how you address the clergy has an significant impact . . .
How do you refer to your pastor? How about your local bishop or archbishop? Years ago, I made a conscious effort to refer to and address clergy using their title and last name. For example, when referring to or addressing our early Legatus chaplain, I would say “Fr. Rutler” rather than “Fr. George.”
I’ve found that in some circles, people who work with priests and bishops on a regular basis can become familiar or casual in how they refer to and address the clergy. Or maybe there is a feeling of close friendship which might make one feel that they do not need to say “Father” before a priest’s name. I remember being in a meeting of Catholic leaders and one of the participants casually referred to a priest he worked with simply by his first name. I was taken aback by the casualness of it.
I am not proposing to have insight into every situation or to say that there may not be exceptions. However, when I started to address clergy in this way, I found that those around me started to do the same. As business leaders — who are often Church leaders too — people look up to Legatus members, so I think if we lead by example here, others will certainly follow.
Earlier this year, an experience that occurred at a Legatus chapter meeting was recounted to me. I thought it might be worth writing about here in the magazine, thus prompting this topic. Let me summarize (without using the actual names of course): A fairly prominent priest was speaking to a Legatus chapter and was appalled that the Legatus members casually referred to their local archbishop by his first name — not saying “Archbishop John,” but simply saying “John.” This bothered the priest so much that he consciously decided that he didn’t want to speak at other Legatus chapters, and has declined to do so since.
I am sure these members intended no disrespect toward their archbishop. In fact, I believe they felt they had a great relationship with him. I knew that hearing others address clergy in a casual way didn’t sit right with me, but this situation really drove the point home. I know all Legates have a great deal of respect for our clergy. I simply offer this story to you for your reflection.
Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.