My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Discerning Possible Pastoral Role



Dear Blog Visitors:

Ever since I was ordained a married priest in 2006, I have received numerous inquiries as to whether or not I would be interested in pastoring a small, independent Catholic community. The short answer is that if an opportunity knocks, I will discern my response carefully.

I live in the town of Henrietta, New York, which is one of Rochester’s suburbs. Concerning diocesan parishes in my general neighborhood, there are three – all led by lay pastoral administrators: Good Shepherd, St. Joseph and Guardian Angels (Guardian Angels borders the towns of Brighton and Henrietta).

I often hear from what has come to be known as ‘Catholics in the diaspora.’ In brief, from a biblical perspective, the ‘diaspora’ has come to symbolize a place of displacement. Indeed, more Catholics would define themselves as not belonging to a parish than those who have an affiliation. If I were to lead a small, independent community, I would hope to attract Catholics who have a love for the sacramental life of the faith, but for whatever reason, have particular issues with the institutional church.

Obviously, those who would define themselves as Catholic liberals, are often frustrated with the slow pace of reform. Traditionalists also find themselves a little frustrated at times. As an example, just two weeks ago, a traditional Catholic informed me that he and his wife stopped going to Mass two years ago, following 35 years of regular attendance. Their cited reason was their being humiliated by the sexual abuse crisis, and the church’s insistence upon mandatory priestly celibacy in the face of a clergy shortage.

Those who know me well would probably describe me as a moderate Catholic. On the liberal side, I support the ordination of women and married men. I also support gay marriage, and have indicated that I will be available as an officiant, if the New York State Senate passes same-sex legislation. On the conservative side, I subscribe to the sacramental life of the church, and I tend to favor traditional music over what we are increasingly seeing, such as rock music or gimmickry designed to attract the younger generation.

A challenge for any faith community is satisfying all its members. At the very least, this is a daunting task, and my guess is that it would be difficult to find a community with 100% content members. It is for this reason that Catholics in large numbers continue to shop for a parish that suits their particular needs.

If I should eventually lead a community in the Henrietta, NY area, it would be my hope that responsibility for administration would rest with lay members, whereby I would simply be available for sacramental and liturgical needs. I would hope to model Jesus as a servant to the people, as opposed to making administrative decisions. Many pastors today get themselves into difficulties by being masters over their parishes. My desire is to be a servant, as opposed to being a master.

For the time being, I am content with being a member of Spiritus Christi Church and being an independent officiant for weddings, baptisms and funerals via my certification from the Federation of Christian Ministries. However, if I am called upon to be the spiritual leader of a community in the Henrietta area, I will discern carefully.

Let us continue to pray for a more inclusive church.

Peace to all.

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