Saturday, April 25, 2009


My very first assignment was with Fr. Bob Hilkert at Saint Ambrose in Brunswick. He was a grand gentleman and a kind pastor. My first year when he was introducing me he would say something along the lines of that it felt as though he were in an arranged marriage. One day the bishop called him up and said that he had a man he was to meet (I was weeks away from ordination) and that he would be living and working with me for the next five years.

This past week the roles in this scenario were reversed. I was the one receiving the phone call from the bishop informing me that I would be meeting a man about to be ordained and that he would be living and working with me for the next four years.

So last Wednesday a classmate of mine and I hopped into a car and headed to Cleveland. Though it was not supposed to be discussed we knew that each of us were getting a newly ordained. We were having dinner together and both of us were dodging conversations when I asked for us to be excused and made him come clean. “Are you getting a newly ordained too?!” It made for a much more relaxing trip to Cleveland having someone with whom you could speculate.

The pastors were to meet in the bishop’s residence. This alone was interesting as we did not even know who the other pastors were. They were all good men causing us to be happy for this ordination class – me especially since my cousin was also in the class. At this point we still did not know who was going where but as we strolled around the grand parlor information packets were set out two by two revealing the well kept secret.

Secrecy in this case is not necessarily a bad practice. Many things could happen between the unofficial announcement and the official announcement that can only be made by the bishop himself. Last minute changes may need to be made for worthy reasons and letting the cat out of the bag too early and having to then reorganize can cause lots of hurt feelings.

After a discussion with the rector of our seminary the class who was at the same time meeting with our bishop and discovering what their assignments would be, they came to join us with beaming smiles. The rest of the day was spent in meetings discussing everything from the mystical nature of the priesthood to handling laundry. (Does this not sound like the priesthood version of Pre-Cana? Maybe it should be called Pre-Pentecost.)

Probably the best line of the day came from the new pastor of Saint Albert the Great. “You pastors are not everything that your people need no matter how hard you try. The newly ordained are likewise not going to fulfill that role. But you’re all they’ve got! So buck up!”

We had a while to talk with our new soon to be parochial vicars and then went our separate ways. They had a seminary career to finish up and we parishes to which we needed to return. Now we wait for the doorbell to be rung by a man in a brand new Roman collar carrying boxes.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Dear Father, Considering all the parishes that could have benefitted from a newly ordained priest, Bishop Lennon must have confidence that you will provide as good an experience for our new associate as you received with Fr. Hilkert. Our parish will soon be doubly blessed. Thanks for all that you do.