This weekend Archbishop Vlazny ordained six men to the priesthood. This is wonderful news. They are Ysrael Bien, Henry Guillen-Vega, Raul Marquez, Robert Wolf, Mark Kissner, and Joseph Nguyen. Please keep them in your prayers.
Here is Southern Oregon, we have a history of receiving newly ordained priests. As of this writing, Fr. Paschal’s replacement is still in Uganda. I have no idea if and when he will arrive. Needless to say, while this is a large ordination class, we still are behind in our ability to staff parishes with enough priests. I have spoken to the Archbishop about our concern about replacing Fr. Paschal to which he sympathized and promised to work with Fr. Brennan, the vicar of clergy, who is in charge of priest placements to continue to problem solve this issue. I trust it will all fall together as it needs to be. Please note that Parochial Vicars (think assistant priests) don’t remain so for very long before they become pastors. In years past, these men would be Parochial Vicars for many years, learning the skills necessary to shepherd a parish. On your part, please keep vocations to the priesthood high on your list of intentions. Parents, you need to encourage your sons to consider this vocation. Without priests, we have no Eucharist. But, I am no alarmist. I believe that God is raising up more and more men to this noble and heroic vocation. May our parish be fertile ground to encourage vocations.
Liturgy Schedule Issues
Since my arrival, it has become obviously clear that there are many issues which need to be solved. One of these is the competition that our Children’s Faith Formation has with our 9:30 AM Mass. Children in our Hispanic community are having to decide whether to send their children to classes or go to Mass. This is unjust. Mass is the source and summit of our faith. Yet, if our children don’t have the opportunity to learn about their faith, then we are complicit in furthering the ignorance of our youngsters making them fodder for other religions or secularism.
Second is the desire for St. Patrick to return to a Sunday Mass. Many of their elderly are not able to make it to Mass when it is dark in the winter. Also, due to sports on Saturday’s, many families do not come to Mass when there is a conflict.
Third, is the best use of our priests. While we have three priests which allow us to cover all six Masses in three locations, we need to be prepared for two priest. In addition, we need to create a flexible schedule that allows us to more easily get a substitute when one of us is sick or out of town.
In addition to these issues, I think we have several opportunities if we craft a schedule that has more time between the Masses. It will allow us to host adult faith formation opportunities between the Masses, relieve our traffic flow between Masses, and afford people with better chances for better parking. For families with children, while their kids are in class, there will be an opportunity to grow deeper in their own faith. Our priests will also have more chance to share in fellowship at coffee and donuts instead of rushing off to the next Mass. I hope to introduce a monthly series I have previously called “Catholicism 101” which explores the basics of our faith as well as current topics.
Liturgy Schedule Change
To these ends I have been pondering on many different scenarios that will allow for all of these to happen. I’ve been speaking with all the councils of all three Churches, discussing the ramifications of one schedule idea over another with staff members. I have been discussing at length various options with our priests as well as those of the vicariate. There is no schedule that is a total win-win. But, there are a few ideas that would solve many of these ideas. I have not yet come to a decision as to what will happen, but I hope to announce a decision by the beginning of July. One thing that is very seriously being looked at is moving the Spanish Mass to another day or time. It is the smallest of our Masses and sits during “prime time” when our children are attending Faith Formation. If this happens, that segment of our community will need our prayers and encouragement. Again, nothing is set in stone, but I ask for your support and not your criticism. The hope is to make the liturgy schedule change effective come the beginning of September. That will allow us to figure out the kinks and how to solve them.
Change Is Hard, But Love Conquers Fear
With any change comes fear. It wasn’t that long ago when Fr. Karl was alone here and he had no parochial vicar. I don’t believe that will happen in the immediate future, but we must be prepared for the day when we have only two priests, for which we will all need to step up and help out even more. We are privileged to have the priests we do with such a shortage ongoing around us. I am very grateful for the Archbishop’s understanding for the need to have at least two priests here.
In my ten years of priestly service, I have noticed that often people are okay with change as long as it effects others and not themselves. In our current situation, I ask you to pray for wisdom and guidance for me and flexibility and openness for all those who may be dissatisfied with whatever comes their way. Instead of a glass half empty, I believe that these changes will fill our cup to overflowing. It reminds me of something I once heard and have repeated many times in my homilies. When you are in love, your zip code doesn’t matter. Neither does the time of day. I believe that we have many wonderful opportunities to grow in our faith. God bless you all.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. William Holtzinger