The Shepherds’ Trust is to help raise awareness and funds so that elderly and disabled priests are provided with sufficient financial resources. Your generosity on November 16th and 17th is deeply appreciated .


A (very) Practical Catholic Guide to Christmas Preparation

Fr. James believes I’m more practical than I really am – until he finds out the truth –
here is a helpful Q&A.

Is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Yes. My Spotify account is eager to play a Michael Bublé or Bing Crosby classic.  But not until Advent.  We have a precious time in November to remember the Holy Souls in Purgatory – they are often forgotten when Jingle-Bells begins.  Let’s maintain our music sobriety for them – one day we shall be where they are.

When should I begin Christmas decorating? Advent – and not all at once. The four weeks of Advent offer a progressive build up to Christmas.  Take the Mass Liturgy as a model – during Advent Catholics first meditate on the Second Coming, then the Old Testament Prophesies, then the events of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and only then the Birth of Jesus.  Notice also, that in Mass we do not sing Silent Night until Christmas and the Octave – Advent hymns take first place.  And most important – the Crib and Shepherds takes priority over Santa’s Elves on our lawns.

What Christmas present should I get my priest? Nothing is required or expected.  The greatest gift to a priest is for you to draw closer to the Lord. It is the best gift if your priest helped you persevere in the state of grace and fruitfully receive of the Sacraments.  If you like, making a spiritual bouquet of Masses, prayers and good works for the priest’s intentions will benefit both the priest and you into eternity.

But I also want to give a material present, what should I get him? A lot of good people express their affection for a priest with gifts.  But what do you get a Man of God with a limited wardrobe colour, who eats limited sweets, reads specialized books, and spends his free time modestly? A good question!

Some suggestions: Instead of items of clothes, a gift card for a department store or gas station. Instead of full pans of a famous sweet or savoury dish, a single person serving on a plate – this way the priest can sample your food, and nothing goes to waste.  Instead of a particular book you’ve read, a gift card to a Catholic bookshop. Instead of gift cards to a favourite restaurant, cash (I know it sounds gauche, but this will be much better used and enjoyed).

Hopefully this provides some helpful guidance for Christmas preparation.

A final reminder – the Holy Souls in Purgatory should take the first place in our devotion until Advent.

Fr. James Zettel


What would you do if you weren't a priest?"  This is a question I get regularly.  And the answer is, "I'd become one!"

Behind this question there is a lot of things that a person assumes.  "Father must be unhappy...Father must regret his choice...Father used to have dreams, now he's eternally stuck as a priest!"

The Priesthood is not a job.  Being a priest is not like becoming a computer programmer who is perpetually writing code until the Second Coming.

The Priesthood, like Matrimony, is a vocation.  A vocation is not the job you have, it's model which gives shape to your job, personal interactions, choice of recreation, etc.

Both priests and laity are involved in education, administration, counselling, custodial work, and construction - but in different forms.

In fact, in each of these areas, I believe I have an advantage as a priest (not by any merit of my own, but by Grace).  There is a tremendous amount of variety on any given day.  We all have legitimate worries and concerns, but my concerns as a priest are about lives, families, meaning, and salvation itself.  So many people feel guilty about carving out intimate time with the Master, as a priest it's expected and built in.

Being a priest is not settling.  Its not putting away dreams.  It's about never settling for mediocrity, its about expanding dreams to reach Heaven.

"I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope." Jer. 29:11

Fr. James Zettel


Important milestones should be remembered.  For most people, their birthday is the fitting moment to celebrate.  It’s a time to gather with friends and family for cake, presents and greetings.

But is it the same for a priest?

As Priests, our families greet us on our birthdays (my parents always send me a thoughtful letter and a gift card!).

But in the family of the Church it’s different.  The priest becomes a father of the spiritual life of the flock entrusted to his care. 

He has the responsibility of ensuring the sacramental, devotional, financial, educational needs of the flock are met.  This gives a true, but incomplete picture of the priest.
A priest is a man, taken from among men, who is consecrated by God to become a saint in a unique way, and to help make saints.  The Catholic Priesthood was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper and carried down the ages by the laying on of hands by the Bishop.

The Priesthood is not the same as lay ministry.  Lay ministry affords the faithful an essential participation in Church’s life of charity and worship. The Priest’s body and soul, on the other hand, are supernaturally configured to Jesus for eternity.  He doesn’t only act in the name of the Church and Jesus, but acts in the very Person of Jesus, the Priest is an alter Christus, another Christ. 

The priest does many external functions, but the dignity and essence of the ordained priesthood resides first not in what he does, but in who he is: An Icon of Christ in the World.

Therefore, the best way to honour a priest is to greet him on his anniversary of Ordination or on his Saint’s feast day.

So you can mark your calendars for we priests here:
Fr. Joao Ferreira was ordained on May 11, 2019.  His saint is St. John the Baptist.

Fr James Cherickal, our pastor, was ordained on December 26, 1989 (30th anniversary this year!). His patron is St. James the Greater.

And I was ordained on June 29, 2013. I suppose while I’m here, my feast day is St. James the Lesser!

Pray for priests!

Fr. James Zettel