Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gran Torino and Clergy Growth

Last night, Harry and I watched Gran Torino, starring Clint Eastwood. If you've never seen it, click on the movie title for plot information. One of the major characters in the movie is a young, inexperienced, Catholic priest, and the interaction between him and Walt (Eastwood's character) was pretty neat to see. In the beginning of the movie, Walt wants nothing to do with "Padre", as he calls him, mostly because he sees the priest as young, inexperienced, and knowing nothing about life. As the plot progresses, Walt develops a good relationship with the priest and winds up teaching him a great deal about life. At Walt's funeral (yes, Walt dies at the end. Sorry for the spoiler), we can clearly see the way his interaction with Walt has impacted his ministry...for the better. I believe that the priest had an impact on Walt as well, since he finally went to confession the afternoon of his death.

One of the things I love about my vocation (be it as a parish pastor or chaplain) is being able to interact with people who are different than I am (whether by way of age, socio-economic status, race, health, etc) and for us to learn from each other. I may speak in largely negative terms of my time at SJ, but there were several "saints" who taught me a great deal about life and ministry, much like Walt taught the priest. Likewise, in the hospital setting I have had several interactions with patients that have been powerful teaching experiences.

Between my experience as a pastor and my five units of CPE, I have realized the need for us to be open to what others can offer us and teach us, even when it initially doesn't seem possible or likely that will occur.

Isn't it amazing what thoughts can spring into your head after watching a Hollywood movie?

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