When you think of the priesthood, there are some standard "tools" that come to mind: vestments, vessels, missals, breviaries, rosaries, etc.; but there are also some simply pragmatic tools that enable a priest to minister to God's people. Here are a few that I've found helpful in my ministry.
iPhone - While there is always the danger of being a smartphone addict, this is probably one of the best purchases I've ever made. This little device helps with a lot of things. Besides simple things like calling people, text messaging, and emailing, I also use these other apps (on an almost daily basis):
- Things - keeps track of my to-do lists
- Instapaper - saves articles I want to read
- Report-IT - allows me to connect with the radio station where I periodically record lectio divina or conversations on homilies and speeches by Pope Benedict
- Universalis - this has every set of Mass readings and prayers ... basically forever. If I need to look up readings for a date three years from now, this app can do it.
- iBreviary - Exactly what it says - a simple way to have the Divine Office with you at all times - along with Mass parts and many other prayers.
- TweetBot - A Twitter client that far surpasses the actual Twitter app. I use it to manage my own account, as well as the Diocese of Steubenville Office of Vocations account.
Notebooks - I've always been kind of a notebook junkie, but I've grown to appreciate them even more as my life has gotten more complex. One tool that I've found indispensable for the past year or so has been my Field Notes notebook. I carry one of these little notebooks in my back pocket at all times. What goes in them? Notes from phone conversations, lists of who is in the hospital, homily ideas, phone numbers, addresses - anything that I need to record right now. And once that information is in there, I can always go back. If I want to know which priests we asked to help with our penance service last Advent, I just flip through and find it. Yes, I could probably do this on a computer or aforementioned iPhone, but, sometimes you just need to write things down. Along with that ...
A pen - It's taken me years to get this in my head, but always carry a pen. Even in our ever rapidly evolving electronic world, you will have to write something almost every day. Be prepared.
My preference: the Uni-Ball 207 Micro Gel Pen.
Business Cards - Again: yes, we live in a digital age, but sometimes you will need to hand someone something physical with your contact information on it. For example: I go to visit someone in the hospital and they are out of the room for testing, or they are asleep, or they don't go to our parish regularly. All I have to do is keep a couple cards in my wallet - then they have something to hold on to that gives them a connection to a priest and a parish.
I ordered my business cards from Vistaprint.
Priests, what practical tools do you use in your ministry? Any tips to share?