Just a Priest
“I heard it from the man himself, George Lodes, a priest of my home archdiocese of St. Louis, who, while in Rome in 1962, had the privilege of an audience with Pope John XXIII. He recalled that there were about ten others priests in the sala, and he was last in line to greet the pontiff. Each of the priests before him introduced himself to John XXIII, told him what he did as a priest, and then knelt to kiss the fisherman's ring.
"I am a university president," the first one reported, and then knelt to kiss the pope's ring: 1 teach in a college," the next said, genuflecting for the baciamano, "I am a hospital chaplain," declared the next, dutifully genuflecting; "Holy Father, 1 am chancellor of my diocese," the next said, then knelt to kiss the ring.
Well, reported my brother priest from St. Louis, as Pope John came to him he felt rather lowly, for, so he thought, his priestly work was hardly as exalted as those nine before him, so he almost inaudibly whispered, "Holy Father, all 1 am is a parish priest."
Whereupon, to his consternation Pope John genuflected before him, kissed his hands, and stood to say, 'That's the greatest priestly work of all!"
(Extract from “Priests for the Third Millennium” by Archbishop Timothy M Dolan.)
Vocations Guide to Priesthood