This week we say thank you and good bye to Fr. Richard as he begins his new assignment as Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Mary’s Seminary. Like Fr. Chuck, his priestly ministry in forming future priests is one of the most important and vital ministries in the life of the Church. We can all be proud that he will take some of the experiences and love of St. John Vianney parish with him as he assists the seminarians on their journey of answering God’s call. If nothing else, he should have a few good “war stories” to tell the seminarians about having to live with the crazy pastor of St. John Vianney! Please continue to keep Fr. Richard, the seminarians, and the seminary faculty, in your prayers. You will be able to express your sentiments and wish Fr. Richard a farewell on the courts of the Activity Center after the morning Masses on Sunday.
So what does Fr. Richard’s departure mean for us here at SJV? While we are certainly going to miss him, there will be some changes around here. We do not know if we will receive another priest at this time and if so, when that may occur. Please remember that Fr. Richard was not originally sent here to serve as a parochial vicar. He was originally assigned here to be “In Residence” as he recovered from cancer. Thanks be to God, his health improved and he was able to resume an active ministry and serve our parish so well these last two years. The simple truth is we do not have enough priests or sufficient numbers of men entering the seminary to meet the needs of all the Catholics in the archdiocese. The Cardinal and the chancery are not being mean or anything of the sort. WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH PRIESTS! “The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. So beg the master of the harvest to send laborers to the harvest!” (Lk 10:2). Additionally, as the pandemic is showing signs of decreasing, Fr. Chuck will soon be returning to the East Coast for the summer. Like Fr. Richard and myself, he has not had a break since before COVID. He has been extremely generous with his time in offering Masses, hearing Confessions, counselling, and all of the other things he does for our parish in addition to his full time work at the seminary. For this, we are all very grateful.
We will again be a “one priest” parish at least for a while and perhaps longer. In practical terms that means sacrifices on the part of us all. Longer lines for Confession, longer waits for appointments, counselling, etc. I will be asking Deacons Jeff and Greg to assist where they can with appointments, counselling, spiritual direction, house blessings, communion calls, marriages and funerals, etc. Of course as deacons, they are unable to hear Confessions, offer Mass, or administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. I ask that you please increase your prayers for our parish and for more vocations especially from our parish. Please pray for me, our staff, and especially for our seminarians. I also ask that you pray for yourselves and ask the Lord to give you the wisdom, the courage, and the generosity of heart, to grow in your vocation as a servant disciple. The ministry of the priest is absolutely essential to the life of a parish and the life of the Church but so is the ministry of the faithful. There is no Church without the faithful! As all of us grow in our discipleship and service, we create a culture or vocation and ministry from which I am confident we will be blessed with many priestly and religious vocations and many holy Catholic families.