I skipped a beat last week to miss writing about my Installation, which happened the week before, Saturday September 12. It was a wonderful night. Bishop Rivituso came for the Mass to address the parish on the relationship with a pastor, and to receive my commitments. There’s a promise I make to faithfully discharge the office of pastor, with preaching the Gospel, faithful personal pastoral care, and pastoral care for the parish as a whole. I had to take a formal oath of fidelity to Church teachings and practices (see below), and received a certificate of Installation as Pastor of St. Monica. I was very proud, and humbled, and still am. The night went on with a lovely outdoor reception, and the Hospitality Committee did a wonderful job preparing plates of light food and drinks. I had the chance to meet more people by name whom I’d already been seeing in church. The evening ended with a beer with the Knights of Columbus, who set up the tables and chairs.
At the Mass I took the opportunity to share what I call my “core values” as pastor. After 25 years as a pastor, these are beliefs and practices that have served me well, and that I want to share with the parish so my priorities are clear. I’ll give a brief summary here, and spell them out clearly in next week’s bulletin and on our website.
First, you can know that what drives me overall is the vision of the Kingdom of God. This grabbed me in college, before priesthood was clear, in a weeklong retreat. I decided then that whatever I did in life would be to further God’s Kingdom, as Jesus reveals it in the Gospels (and it’s in two of our stained glass windows.) I decided then that the Kingdom is worth my life.
Second, out of this I stand with the Church—on all the practices, laws and regulations regard in the sacraments and parish life. May sound obvious, but at each parish sooner or later I’m asked to do something seriously departing from the Church norms. I don’t do that. And, the same is required of Church employees. All who are employed by the Church are required to publicly support Church teachings and practices.
Third: How does this pastor work at parish life? I make decisions collaboratively wherever possible. Some decisions are small; others require emergency decisions (which our pandemic has required sometimes.) Wherever possible, in important decisions I consult those at stake, and usually the Parish Council, so there’s good understanding and support for a major decision. Because of this, I don’t make significant decisions on the run. I’m sometimes asked after Mass for instance to book a parish room or start or change a parish program or to change a liturgy practice, and I won’t give a definitive answer because at that moment I can’t get to the people involved. So while I always want to know what or whom you need prayers for, or your joys to celebrate, it’s “Call me Monday” for more involved work matters.
Fourth, I see every part of the parish, as—part of the parish. There is no group that is somehow separate or can conduct itself on its own. In facilities, publicity, funds, and scheduling, each group is blessed to be part of the larger parish community and is to conduct itself as such.
Lastly, I call for us to do all the above in a manner of respect for each other. While parish life can get complex and there can be disagreements, there is no cause in the Kingdom of God for raised voices, negative personal talk, ultimatums etc.. I hold myself to this: if anyone ever feels I’ve spoken or acted disrespectfully, please tell me and I’ll examine myself on it. This call to respect includes using e-mail respectfully. The parish staff will often see my e-mails before I do, and they won’t forward ones to me that are personally negative or sarcastic. I want to make these values clear and available so you know what to expect. They help me serve the parish with the values and practices of the Gospel.