The “blizzard of 2015” has given me the opportunity to catch up on a bunch of things, including getting back to posting on this blog which unfortunately I haven’t been to faithful too! (Speaking of the blizzard and New England winters, I think God might be calling me to be a missionary priest… in CANCUN).
In September, my work as a parochial vicar (or assistant priest) came to an end when I was made the temporary administrator of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Bedford, MA after the unexpected death of one of our priests. In November, our new Bishop, Bishop Edgar da Cunha reassigned me to be the administrator of St. Joseph’s Parish and St. Michael’s parish (which has a wonderful parish school) as well as remaining in the diocesan vocation office.
(A word on the title “Administrator” – In the Diocese of Fall River, there is a policy that when a priest becomes a pastor of a parish for the first time, that he has the title “administrator” for one year. Most of it has to deal with some canonical (Church law) distinctions, but the best analogy that I can come up with is that it is like a learner’s permit before one gets a drivers license.)
The role of a pastor/administrator comes with a lot of additional responsibilities. In addition to trying to meet the spiritual needs of the people, which is most important, there is also the care of the properties and financial stability of the parish, as well as the school! I will humbly say, it has been quite a learning experience these first few weeks. I have learned a lot about hot water tanks, boilers, leaking roofs, and now snow removal too.
While all this is important and necessary, it is not the most important thing we do as parish priests! I explained to both parishes my first weekend here (in English and broken Portuguese) that we must ALL work together to renew and rebuild our parish communities and we do that by focusing everything we do on Jesus Christ!
While addressing the clergy of the diocese, Bishop da Cunha explained that we can not continue to just “maintain” our parishes, settling for the status quo or just doing things as we have always done them, but that we must focus on “mission” – on strengthening our catholic identity, on evangelizing, on reaching out to those who have stopped coming, and bringing excitement and renewal those who are already here!
Life will certainly be busy here, but I am excited and will try to be better about weekly posts! If you are ever in the Fall River area, stop in at St. Michaels or St. Josephs!