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A Courageous Pastor

This morning’s Mass was the optional memorial of St. Peter Julian Eymard, founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. Our pastor had a very specific reason for highlighting this lesser known saint. He is beginning a push for regular Eucharistic adoration in our parish with the goal of eventually having perpetual adoration. What a blessing!

I must say our pastor is a courageous fellow. He came to us a little over a year ago. We were a pretty good orthodox parish. I really couldn’t complain. However, I would also say the spirituality of the parish was at a plateau. We were “good enough” but going no farther. Under our new pastor's leadership and with the help of some very energetic, young parochial vicars the parish faith is becoming richer.

One of his early initiatives was to make the sacrament of reconciliation available on a daily basis. All of our priests educate the congregation on the sacrament at every opportunity. The lines for confession are getting longer and longer in spite of the increased availability of the sacrament. When our bishop relented and allowed girls to be altar servers at the discretion of the pastor, our pastor stood firm and said we would continue to have an all male altar server corps.

Father also wanted to enrich the parish liturgy. This meant making some changes to the music, among other things. He brought in a new music director and we are now using the St. Michael’s hymnal with an ample supply of orthodox liturgical music. One of our parochial vicars has a beautiful voice so he is gradually coaxing musical Latin responses from the parishioners. The modern rendition of a crucifix that adorns the back wall of the sanctuary can be appreciated as a work of art. However, it is not a true crucifix. Father has been trying to have a more formal crucifix put in place, though such a change in the sanctuary requires diocesan approval. This morning I noticed a new crucifix by the altar where the smaller processional crucifix had previously been. It looks like this one may also be portable for processions. It is very beautiful and very large. I wonder if it will actually be used for processions? If so, it will have to be the high school aged altar servers carrying the cross.

I know these changes have ruffled some feathers. Not everyone is happy with every innovation. I think a few may have left the parish, but not many. I know a few are asking, “What next?” with exasperation in their voice. However, some of us are asking “What next?” in excited anticipation. What a blessing it is to have a pastor who will not let us grow too comfortable with the status quo. He is always pushing and prodding us to take one more step on our faith journey. What more can we learn? What treasure will we discover as we probe another layer of our Faith? Like a good shepherd, he is gently coaxing and sometimes firmly pushing us to keep moving forward as we travel towards the Kingdom of Heaven.

Keep him and all our spiritual shepherds in your prayers.


Esperu said…
Thanks for these thoughts. I'm also among the "What's Next?" in excited anticipation crowd.

Several years ago at a different parish I was in the "What's Next?" in dreadful foreboding crowd. I know I've changed quite a bit since then, but I also wonder about the different styles of pastors.

To me, a key difference between this current pastor and the one I know before his his affirming, positive perspective. We are not hearing: "You were doing it wrong, I'll show you how to do it right." Rather, "In addition to the good already evident here, we are adding some elements from the great treasury of the Church."

Now, I realize there are some who were in the old 9:00 choir who felt like they got the smack-down. I'm not sure what really transpired there, but I sure have appreciated this pastor's encouraging approach.

At my previous parish, the manner in which the pastor told us he was coming to "correct abuses" really put off me and a lot of other people.

"Courageous" is a good word. Thanks.
What is the name of your parish?
Catholic Mom said…
I attend Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale
Anonymous said…
Holy Spirit was my parish before moving to the Richmond diocese.

I attended a Mass at HS a recently and noticed the very positive changes you are talking about. Wonderful to see!

The answer to most of our problems today are new priests. Pray for vocations to end the liturgical mess the Church is mired in today.

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