We just had a conference on living alone in a parish. It is a reality that many parish priests face today and tomorrows future parish priests will face on a regular basis. In Sacramento, it's a fact of life. I have already spent time in two rectories where the priest was the only one there.
So what do you do?
We had four priests who combined have probably served as priests for over 130 years give us some advice and suggestions.
Among other things, find and keep friends of all sorts. Priests, laity, family. They are all essential. Keep yourself connected to the diocese and the events. Plug yourself into a priestly support group. Have a priest mentor early on. Catch yourself if you are falling into addictive behaviors or self-isolating ones. Listen to your superiors. There is definitely something to be said for trusting your bishop and his appointed representatives.
They also made an interesting note. As you get settled into priestly life, you get used to time alone. But it is important to realize what this time alone is like for you. It should be a chance for solitude and not loneliness. It should be a chance to enjoy the quiet and rest in the loving arms of the Father. Not a moment where depression hits and we try to fill our thoughts with things that will distract us.
photo by cuellar
Anyways, it was nice and refreshing. I always like hearing what it's like out on the front. You can get isolated from it all, especially in Rome.