Last week while on vacation I received news that our expected new parochial Vicar, Fr. Dominic, has yet to go his embassy to complete whatever is needed to travel to the U. S. At this point the Archdiocese feels that he won’t be here anytime soon. The Archbishop was willing to allow Fr. Paschal to stay with us for an extended period of time, but not more than two months. That time will run out at the end of this month. So, Fr. Paschal will move and go to Redland at the end of August. No priest will be coming to take his place. That means we will have me (full time) and Fr. Fister (half time) for our three parishes.
How does this effect our churches? Luckily, our new liturgy schedule will allow us two to cover all the Masses on the week- end. However, we will need to be prepared to have a communion service once in a while if no priest is available. Our weekday schedule, however will be having regular communion services, likely on Monday and Tuesday. Pastoral ministry such as communion visits or anointing will not be as readily available since I will be the only priest at the parish on a daily basis. We may have to seek out the Vicariate priests if the funeral schedule gets too busy to accommodate. Simply put, less priests means less availability compared to what the community has been accustomed.
It is unknown when Fr. Dominic will arrive. But, until he does, we must all work together to fill in gaps or help others know that there is a priest shortage and we can’t be everywhere all the time. We will simply have to think smarter not harder.
Fr. Paschal has been a wonderful blessing to us all. We have been very blessed to have had so many priests serve our community. It is truly a blessing that it has taken this long for us to also feel the impact.
What can you do? I believer that praying for more vocations is a real constructive thing to do. We need to promote the priesthood in our families. Being patient with me, Father, and the other priests you know who regularly cope with the demands that can’t always be met. And finally, be open to the Holy Spirit who may be calling you to help out in a ministry to which you’ve been reticent to involve yourself. We need to work together now more than ever... and that is a blessing for the life of any community.
God is good and his plans are for greatness. I look forward to this next chapter of our faith adventure. No fear. Just great expectations.
Thank you all for your stewardship and thank you for all your prayerful support for our priests.
Fr. William Holtzinger