I have yet to accustom myself to the word Priester, meaning of course, priest. The English word is priest and priester seems somehow diminutive like Paulito in Spanish for children. There was nothing diminutive, however, about the Priesters at the Béguinage during the Paaswake, Easter Vigil, and the Easter Mass.
A little backstory…..The Béguinage is important historically and religiously; its original title was Princelijk Beggynhof Ten Wijngaard which definitely gives you the idea. The first Priester for the Benedictine sisters who followed the Béguines and who were originally formed as Filles de Eglise (daughters of the church) in the 1930s, (Filles de Eglise is stamped in many of the songbooks I use) was Rudolphe Hoornaert. Priester Hoornaert came from a long line of family priesters and served for 40 years from around 1920-1960. 1960 saw another long term Priester at the Béguinage, Paul Francois, a musician whose Mass and prayer responses written for the Béguinage are still regularly sung. Priester Leo De Clerk was next; he has been the Béguinage priester since my arrival in Bruges four years ago. He is now just retiring; the retirement feestje being next Sunday. We now have a new Priester Johan Goemaere.
This does not mean there are not other Priesters. Christmas saw an astonishing 7 Priesters in this relatively small Béguinage church for Mass. Easter was no different. The Passwake, Easter Vigil was presided over by a majestic 70 year old retired Priester with a magnificent voice (apparently in great demand which I can totally understand) who mesmerized the congregation with the Exultet. We were drawn to the beauty of the words as he sang with no apparent effort and with great joy. At both the Easter Vigil and the Easter Mass there was an additional stately Priester who comes periodically and directs the congregational singing with graceful, delicate and understated hand motions, bidding us to sing as gracefully as he leads. The Béguinage has no shortage of Priesters.