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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. After one of our last meetings, 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 very simple and 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. 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. 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, 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. 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 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, I sent you a copy of it a previous email to you. I was wondering how, as a former priest, you thought my letter may have been received by him and what he might have thought of me.
I do not see anything inappropriate in your letter. You shared your honest feelings in a respectful way. But, I expect Fr. Jim could no longer play the game. For a priest, the game goes something like this: Flirting is ok and even welcomed but it must not be too overt. He welcomes a certain amount of affection being stirred in his heart. But, when he perceives that you are getting too close or he is falling in love, the game is up. Now he must make difficult choices and his was to leave. My guess is that he fled from his love for you if he moved unexpectedly. The game is really up for the priest when a woman expresses her love for him. Now, it is all on the table rather then in innuendo under the table.
When women love priests who are not willing to reciprocate, they are in for a lot of pain.
You want me to ask myself why I fell for him. I have asked myself many times what the draw was. One questions was " would you feel the same attraction if he were not a priest and a free man?" Yes I know all about the "safeness and unavailability" reasons. I honestly haven't a clue as to any subconscious reason for such an intense and prolonged attachment. What made you fall in love with your wife and she for you?
What I wanted was your initial gut reaction to the contents of that letter - had you received such a letter, what would you have thought? I thought it was absolutely beautiful, very sad and heartfelt and I wanted it to touch him in some small way. I put my heart and soul into it and spent a long time carefully choosing my words. If I couldn't touch the heart of a priest, how can I touch the heart of a lesser man?
When you wake up in the morning thinking of that person, go to bed at night thinking of them, want them to be happy, worry if they are safe, long to be near them, feel your heart flutter and such tremendous joy in their presence, that true kindred spirit - are you suggesting that this can't be real love unless the object of your affection feels the exact same thing?? That is how I felt when he was there. I wanted to be his sweetheart; I wanted him to think of me as his "beloved” and feel his heart beat next to mine. Instead I am a pathetic fool.
It has been a year and a half since he left--of course I no longer feel that way, but I still think of him almost daily. I’ve stopped “feeding” the feelings and dwelling on them. What point is there in doing that? Thoughts of him are fleeting ones----not so much pining and longing, only trying to understand all of it so I can heal and truly move on and put it all behind me. Time does heal, but this one is a slow healer. I pray unceasingly to be completely free. But the only way I can totally forget him is to have a lobotomy. This is one pain I will carry with me to my grave
I feel like the biggest fool in the world for opening up my heart to this man - I do not feel I will ever be able to do this with anyone, ever again. I am humiliated and embarrassed by my very humanness. My feelings did not matter and had no significance whatsoever. What a shame that I am afraid to ever open up to someone again - this because of a priest? Sometimes the pain was so bad, it hurt to even take another breath.
Is there a course in Seminary for how to react to women who profess their love? Is it aptly called, "Rejection by Silence 101?"
What I want to say to all priests: Your calling is a worthy one for the sake of God’s Kingdom. If you are able to maintain this celibate lifestyle and push human love out of your hearts, I applaud you. But live out your priestly persona and always present yourself as truly an “Alter Christus”. In other words, to be very frank and somewhat crass, if you are a priest and therefore dead from the neck down then please act like one! Please stop the winking, wearing after shave, putting your hand on a woman's shoulder, flashing a move star smile, gazing at her, holding her hand longer than you should and being witty. I suppose God calls even handsome and charming men to the priesthood, but it is so very unfair to us lonely Catholic women who have yet to find that Godly man she so desires.
I wish to respond first in more detail to a previous question of yours, that of why I think I may have fallen in love with him. Now that I have given it more thought:
Ø No, I have never been attracted to other priests or to those who are public speakers. No, in no way am I enticed by “forbidden” love.
Ø Yes, of course I am attracted to someone who is kind and compassionate to me. He was. No other man in my life was, instead they turned out to be users who were cruel and ultimately insulting. He would not use women and instead respected them. He treated elderly women so sweetly as well; this impressed me. Yes, his faith and love for God was also a big draw, no other man in my life had the spiritual dimension I so sought in a mate.
Ø He had a magnetic personality and a wonderful sense of humor.
Ø He was sensitive. I saw him cry when someone sang “Ave Maria” – it truly touched me. He was able to show his broken side to us; he acknowledged he was also a sinner who struggled. He always put himself on the same playing field as the rest of us.
Ø He had a smile that also lit up a room; a smile that would melt hearts. He was also very handsome. He made sure to make people feel valued and important; he often told me I was “gifted”.
Ø His eyes were deep set and very special – once during reconciliation his whole face seemed to glow. I was blown away. He was intelligent without being intimidating. He would not talk “over your head” or be too philosophical.
Ø In short, I simply could not help but fall in love with the very person he was. He was an amazing and beautiful soul!
Would I have felt guilty for him leaving the priesthood for me? Or would I have been willing to have a secret affair on the side given my Catholic faith?
No and Yes! I would have given anything to be with him! Even if it were only one time I would not have passed up the chance to have experienced what I believe would have been a beautiful union. I too have some issues with Catholic teaching; I feel that celibacy is a very noble thing IF a man is truly called to it. However, I feel the church should give them a choice. Marriage is not a lesser or inferior type of love from celibate love; it is just a different way to express it. I believe that God reveals himself to us in many ways, and one of the ways is with human love and the marital bond!
I am well into middle age and have never felt this way about anyone, not even for my husband on my wedding day. No comparison, not even close. I am now divorced and people may think I just did this psychological “transference” thing they talk about. Perhaps there are elements of that, I do not doubt it. But no, he did not just counsel me (only 3 brief meetings over 2 years). No instead it was seeing him regularly as I was very active in my parish. I loved assisting him in various ministries; I truly cherished that and miss it very much. (For months I found it hard to walk into that church and I even dropped out of many ministries for a while. )
We would have been fornicating if sexually involved and he remained a priest. Then he would have had two sins on his soul: breaking his vows and fornicating. This is the guilt the Catholic Church puts on people who love each other. We would both have lost our souls for acting in such a selfish manner. This is what I have been taught and told to believe. But despite knowing this, I do not doubt I would have been with him either way. I took a very brave and very great risk by putting myself out there and telling him how I felt. I lost though--as he rejected me and rejection and unrequited love is one of the most painful human experiences there is. You thanked your wife for her courage to share her feelings and view it as a gift from God; I got no such response (sad). I am now an emotional mess who needs healing. I’m definitely not an emotionally healthy woman! Oh how I wish HE could somehow read this!
According to the Church hierarchy, I am a heretic for not believing every single teaching and therefore deemed unworthy to receive our dear Lord in Eucharist with this mortal and sacrilegious sin on my soul. But God still sits on his mighty throne and ultimately He alone is the only one who truly knows my heart, my intentions and my struggles—He alone will be the judge of my love for this priest.
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