FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK…….
Also Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!!
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Each gospel in the three-year cycle on the Fourth Sunday of Easter always speaks of Jesus in various aspects of Him being a good shepherd. This Sunday has also been a good opportunity to preach on vocations to the priesthood. My bulletin article today will focus on one aspect of the priestly vocation – being transferred!
Ever since it was announced on April 19 that Fr. Mark will be moving from Our Lady of Mercy at the end of June, I have been inundated with the question, “why does Fr. Mark have to move?” We love him! He has done so much for our parish! We love his homilies and all the spiritual videos and information he has given us on the app and website during the stay-at-home order! The children, teens, young adults all love his youthfulness and his way of speaking and teaching about Jesus and the Church. His homilies are fantastic! They relate to him so well! He has only been here three years! Can’t he stay? I concur with your observations about the tremendous gift Fr. Mark has been to our parish and to me personally. However, moving on is a part, sometimes a painful part, of being a priest. In my 39 years of being a priest, I have moved to a new assignment 7 times. Each move was not easy because as a priest you love your parishioners and become close to them. Each new assignment however brings new friends and opportunities. I think it is good for the personal growth of the priest and the parish that priests do move on.
The current policy in the Diocese of Joliet is that a newly ordained priest stays in his first assignment for three years, then receives a new assignment. When I was ordained in 1981, a newly ordained priest stayed five years in his first assignment. Over the years with the shortage of priests, associate pastors were becoming pastors sooner than in the past. I was ordained 12 years and in five different assignments as an associate pastor before I became a pastor. Today, an associate pastor can expect to become a pastor after only four to six years ordained. The bishop wants an associate pastor to have at least two different parish experiences before becoming a pastor. That is why Fr. Mark is being transferred now. While he has had a great experience at Our Lady of Mercy, it would serve him well to experience ministry at another parish before he becomes a pastor. I think he will make a GREAT pastor someday soon! Fr. Mark is a holy, prayerful man who has a deep personal relationship with Jesus and a burning desire to share that with others – making others committed disciples of Jesus! I have no doubt that he will do that wherever he is sent!
Have a Blessed Easter Season! Fr Don