Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Joy of Not Knowing

It pleases me to be able to exhort you to welcome our new Parochial Vicar, Fr. Daniel Gallaugher.  He moved in during the week, a few moments earlier than mandated by the Archdiocesan appointment, and proceeded to throw himself into the work at hand by offering the 6:30 Mass on his first day in residence.
This is the “flip-side” of the process we went through in May, when Fathers McDonell and McCabe set out from us, one of them not having known that he would move so soon, the other still not knowing to where he was moving.  Their going forth from us was our loss, and we had no idea of the needs and goals that led those responsible for deciding when and where they would go.
Now arrives Fr. Gallaugher, and his arrival is our gain.  That much we can easily agree without yet knowing precisely what it is we shall gain.  I shall ask him to write for you a biographical sketch for next week, so I will not now go into details that he shall better convey.  We know that simply having another priest dedicated to the spiritual health and growth of our parish and parishioners will be a good thing.  But what is it in particular that he will bring? 
Conversely we can be confident that his being here with us will be good for him.  This parish is recognized for treating very well the priests who are assigned here and who live here. 
By “treating well,” however, I do not mean showering with gifts and privileges, asking very little in the way of effort, or applauding every deed and utterance.  That might seem to be good treatment by some standard, but not by ours.  No, by this I mean that the members of this church respect and understand the Holy Priesthood, and ask for the energetic exercise of precisely that office and the divine gifts associated with it.  In other words, you ask your priests, to be your priests, all the while recognizing that every priest is different, and at a different stage in his vocational growth and development.  This is why our rectory is almost constantly chosen to host a seminarian still in formation.  I have told you before that you are good teachers of priests.
So just what it is that Fr. Gallaugher will learn while he is here, just what growth in wisdom and holiness he will enjoy because of his relationship with you and all that will happen here during his time, we do not know any more than he does.
Nonetheless, we can be just as confident that learning and growth will occur in us because of his presence and ministry, without knowing what shape that learning and growth will take. 
This is part of the great delight and anticipation that accompanies Fr. Gallaugher, for it is the Holy Spirit at work in the Church that has brought him here to us.  It balances the sadness and gratitude that marked the sending forth of Frs. McDonell and McCabe when obedience spirited them from out of our midst.
As if this were not sufficient cause for rejoicing, I will share with you that this week I learned that another priest, this one assigned to study at Catholic University, hopes to live here this year.  There are still several practical steps between now and his arrival, so I will leave the details for later, and commend to your prayers all (us) priests whom God sends to bring you closer to Himself. 

Monsignor Smith

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