23 May 2019, The Tablet

‘If that’s what God calls you to do, you can’t say no’

by Blanche Girouard , Anthony Cho

The priestly life

‘If that’s what God calls you  to do, you can’t say no’

Blanche Girouard


THE PRIEST: Fr Anthony Cho OFM
St John the Evangelist and
St Erconwald, Ingatestone, Essex

In the third in our series that lifts the lid on the experience of being a priest today, Singapore-born Fr Anthony Cho discusses pre-sermon nerves, the challenge of celibacy, trying to get parish groups going, and the hurt caused by his encounters with racism

The hardest thing, for me, is the complaints I get from my parishioners. “The font in the newsletter is too small.” “Why are you repeating the same notices over and over again?” “We don’t know this hymn, Father, so how can we participate?” “Oh, but Fr so-and-so did this, Fr so-and-so did that…”

Once a woman came and said: “This is how you should preach. You shouldn’t be standing at the pulpit. You should come out.” But that isn’t my style. I get very, very nervous and I like to be in the pulpit so that people don’t see me trembling. It isn’t that I don’t know my stuff. I spend a lot of time preparing. I make sure I take time to meditate upon the Scriptures. If I need help, I have commentaries to refer to. On Monday or Tuesday, I start writing. I’m a perfectionist so I change and change it. It may take me until Thursday evening to produce a final draft. Then I start my stopwatch. I try to be no more than eight. But I still get anxious. Can they understand my accent? Do they get the message? Or am I speaking Chinese?

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