It is hard to believe this, but we have another change in the cast of priestly characters in the Holy House of Soubirous. That’s right, we have yet another transition in the population of our rectory. Brace yourselves! If you pay close attention, you will be able to amaze your friends who went away for long periods this summer by explaining to them what priests were here, and when, and for what reason – and then introducing them to the ones who are here now.
Father Michael Russo, who was ordained in June and assigned here, moving in July 10 as Parochial Vicar pro tempore, will be coming to the end of his temporaand moving out of the parochial vicar suite in our rectory.
Father Brad Berhorst, a priest of Jefferson City (that’s in Missouri) who was also ordained in June (just two weeks after Father Russo) will be moving into the student rooms of the rectory.
The funny thing is, both Father Russo and Father Berhorst will be studying for advanced degrees at Catholic University of America over the coming year, Father Russo for one year to get his License in Systematic Theology, and Father Berhorst for two years to get his License in Canon Law. They will probably see one another on campus.
We will not have a Parochial Vicar; Fr. Russo’s assignment is to get his degree. I will be the only priest assigned by the Archdiocese of Washington to be at Saint Bernadette.
However, Father Berhorst’s bishop, who also has assigned him to get his degree, wants him to gain experience of priestly life in a parish, and has assigned him not only to live here, but also to be engaged in the life of the parish. Which means he will be doing more than just helping with Mass and confessions, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his completing his academic work on schedule.
What’s more, Father Russo is really happy to be a priest and wants to do priest things too, so that he gain experience of priestly life in a parish. It seems that you all have been utterly charming and generous toward him over his six-week sojourn, and maybe his time in our rectory has been a little (a lot?) more promising than the thought of another year in the institutional halls of Theological College at CUA. So, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his completing his academic work on schedule, he will be helping out around here too.
So even though Father Russo is technically moving out of the rectory and back into the dismal and dank corridors where he just served his years of seminary time, don’t say good bye! Say instead, hurry back! Or maybe, see you next week? Schedules and balancing all have to be worked out, but let him know that the more you see of him, the happier you’ll be. I think it would be great to have him around as much as possible. In fact, I may just encourage him to leave as much of his stuff as he wants right where it is in the parochial vicar rooms.
You should also welcome Father Berhorst, and assure him that not only are you glad to have him here with us, but explain that you’re pretty confident he’ll like it here. In fact, you can give evidence for the hope that is within you: Be on the lookout for another weekend visit from Fr. Nick Zientarski, to emphasize how much Saint Bernadette loves her student priests, and how much priests love being at Saint Bernadette. That is not at all hard to believe.