“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” ~ Max DePree
Yesterday afternoon, Bishop Hying and several of the priests of the Diocese of Gary spent a long time discussing the possible assignment changes of priests. There are a couple of parishes that need new pastors. Those need to be filled and then we need to find priests to go to the places that are opened because the priests were transferred. As you can imagine, this can be a tedious — and stressful — process.
It is tedious because a lot of thought has to go into the recommendation to move a priest. It is stressful because the priests that we recommend being moved may not have asked for a change of assignment. Each year, as the process begins, priests indicate whether or not they are seeking a change. However, sometimes, the personnel board recommends that a certain priest go to a certain place, even if the priest has not asked to move.
That necessitates a discussion by the bishop with the priest involved. If we are lucky, the priest will accept the invitation of the bishop to move. If we are not lucky, we may have to go back to the drawing board as a request is refused.
Moving to a new pastoral assignment can be extremely stressful on a priest. It is hard to say goodbye to a place where one has put down some roots and gotten close to the parishioners. However, when we were ordained, we made a promise of obedience to the bishop. In the spirit of obedience, we are called to accept reassignment if requested.
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” I would modify Max DePree’s quote slightly by stating, “by remaining where we are”. Sometimes, a move is necessary. I remember my many assignments. I never would have thought that I would teach in a high school or be a chaplain in an orphanage. I never would have seen myself in an inner city parish or at a maximum security prison. I never would have imagined being at an extremely small parish or at one of the largest parishes in the diocese. The bishop has asked, in the past years, and I have said yes. As hard as it would be now that I am getting older, I would say yes again in the spirit of obedience. I hope not to get asked to move but have to be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
The same is true in all of our faith lives. As we begin this year’s season of Lent, we are called to consider that God has invited us to become something that we are not, to go to places that we would never consider. For example, we are not as holy as we should be. God asks us to consider spending extra time in prayer. We are not as generous as we should be. God asks us to give of our time, talent, and treasure to others. We are not as inclusive as we should be. God asks us to consider working in a soup kitchen or staffing a homeless shelter, to visit those incarcerated in jails or prisons, or to visit those who have no one to see them in the nursing home.
We can touch so many lives; but, only if we move to a different place, a different state, a different frame of mind. God wants us to become more of who we should be. How willing are you to make the move today?
FAITH ACTION: Ask God to give you the grace that you need to embrace His will for you, no matter what His will may be.
Do not forget, the Fridays of Lent are Days of Abstinence.