Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sorry this is late . . .power outage!
So one day I am in my office minding my own business when the phone rings. It is a person from the diocese saying that the bishop has decided to send me to Saint Sebastian to be administrator with an eye on becoming its pastor but not to tell anyone save my pastor.

I wonder if this moment is a bit like being engaged or finding out that you are pregnant (as a couple I mean) and deciding not to tell anyone yet for one reason or another? Life is about to change in a most dramatic way but you must act like nothing has happened. In fact, they requested that I so not so much as take a drive around the place. This was particularly difficult as one of the priests with whom I lived was a son of that parish and spent some time at dinner each night speculating who might be going there and asking us regularly if we had heard anything.

“Not that I can say . . .”

As odd as this might sound (and as difficult as it was to obey) this has a very useful purpose. There is a certain order in which these things should be announced. The pastor who is leaving should know first. It would be very disrespectful for him to find out through the grapevine. This and for other legitimate reasons it is kept on the hush hush. There is also the matter of “you are not really going there until the bishop officially tells you that you are going there.” That is a matter also of respect and obedience. That goes with the Catholic territory.

So one night over a pre-prandial when the pastor and I were alone I said, “I have something to tell you.” He got a smirk on his face and said, “You’re going to Saint Sebastian aren’t you?” Apparently I hadn’t been as secretive as I thought collecting boxes for no special purpose and throwing out accumulated paraphernalia.

Still it had to be kept on the QT. It is difficult to imagine how many conversations are future oriented until there is a red tag placed on them. Parishioners asking for things that take place in advance, calendar planning, and the like. This went on for about two weeks until my official meeting with the bishop. As it turned out my best priest friend (who I am proud to say I kept in the dark) had a meeting on the same day a little after I did so we decided to lunch together in between. Of course dodging his questions were most difficult. “Why are they calling you down a second time? Did they tell you what it was about? What do you think they want you for?” All I could do was promise that all would be revealed at lunch. That satisfied him.


To be continued. . .


Anonymous said...

Oh the suspense!
I am happy for you Fr.

Odysseus said...

This is like following a soap opera (minus all the sleaze, of course.)

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, As you were contemplating your impending assignment, some of the parishioners were meeting with the Bishop's representatives. When asked what characteristics we would like in our new pastor, one involved our children: "relate" to them and help our children to understand their faith; "inspire" our youth (and all of us) in our faith; support the school and Catholic education; and "study" our school before making changes. One "cluster" of parishioners wanted a pastor who is "aware of Vatican II" and Catholic social teaching and accepts lay involvement in the liturgy. Many other comments were offered; I'll share a few the next time you continue with this topic.

Anonymous said...

At the parishioners' meeting, when I heard the comment about wanting a pastor who is "aware of Vatican II," I wanted to say (but didn't!), "What about Vatican I... and the Council of Trent... and Constance...and the Lateran Councils...and Chalcedon...and Ephesus...and Nicea...and--in other words, the action of the Holy Spirit throughout salvation history??