Friday, March 7, 2014

Our Parish Has A Great Pastor

I participate in our Parish as much as I can. I am, and have been for the last 8 or 9 years, a member of the parish music ministry. I am a regular facilitator of parish Bible study courses. Of course I attend Mass regularly. As a consequence of these and other efforts, I have spoken with our pastor many times. I'm not saying this to brag, just to set the background for the remaining of this post.

From what I can tell, our pastor has had a broad range of experiences in his life as a minister of the Church. Aside from his role as priest and pastor, I know he has also acted in other capacities bringing the Word of God to people that are less fortunate and are hurting physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. These experiences have given him a wide foundation to draw upon when delivering homilies as well as providing advice. He is extremely intelligent. And, on top of all of this, he has a great sense of humor. 

As a result of these qualities, I find him very easy to speak with. Combining this latter quality with his sense of humor and joy of living, and one gets a pastor with whom it is easy to joke around. For example, about two years ago, the parish was praying the rosary for a special parish intention. Several of us were talking to the pastor about this, and discussing the various rosaries we had and other topics. My rosary happens to the be the one that I received when I was confirmed over 50 years ago. So when the subject came up, I mentioned this fact of the rosary's age and followed with the quip '...and they still work.' The pastor, not missing a beat, laughed out loud then proceeded to kid me about them. As another example, he was recently the celebrant for a Mass where the contemporary choir (of which I am a member and guitar player) were providing the music. Not once, but twice I accidentally hit my strings, causing random notes to be broadcast throughout the Church. I felt bad about it, since the service, while joyful, is not playful. I saw him outside of the Church afterwards and apologized to me, He started to kid me about it, and I responded that the Gospel inspired me - he again laughed out loud.

You may be wondering why I am even writing about him in this manner. I'm explaining this because I think that his behavior and demeanor is refreshing, and is important in the goal of building a strong, healthy and religious community. Many pastors I've met have been very serious and seem consumed with worry or concern. The seriousness builds a wall around the pastor, psychologically saying 'don't bother me'. It can lead to parishioners seeking other routes of advice or solace that are not rooted in God.  Though I realize that all priests have God-given gifts and our pastor's gifts would not be suitable in all circumstances, I for one am very happy that he is our pastor. My prayer would be that all people can belong to parishes where at least one of the priests is able to provide ideal spiritual guidance and act as a holy example for the individuals in the congregation.