Being an associate pastor was fun those first years because I did not have to make major decisions, the pastor did that. After being a pastor for 31 years I sometimes look back and say to myself, it would be nice being that associate pastor again. Being the pastor, means you are the person in charge, and that the buck stops at your desk. You are the instructional leader, the model for others to follow, but especially you are the faith leader of your parish, and that is scary. Oh least I forget, you are also the person who many times: locks up; unlocks; makes sure there is toilet paper in the restrooms; anything else that needs to be done that does not follow under someone else’s job description or by volunteers that didn’t show up.
I strive to lead by example, not by telling everyone what to do and how to do it. I want to know what is being done in the name of the parish, in my name, but I try not to micro manage. I do not stay in my office any more than I have to; I am in classrooms, cafeteria, Adult Studies, hospital, high school, car line, meetings of all types; including parish, school system and diocesan. I try to be present to as many people as possible. I even answer the parish office phone at times. All of these are ways in which I try to show that I am not too busy for our parishioners. The sales people, the person off the street, or people from outside the parish may have to wait to another time.
We were taught at the seminary, “gentlemen do not change anything in a parish for a year, unless it is simply unlivable.” I believe that I have pretty well followed that advice in all the parishes I have been assigned. It does not seem possible that I have been here at St. Agnes Cathedral for four and half years. They have been good years and together with the parish staff, I believe we have accomplished many things, spiritually as well as physically. Thanks to special donations, as well as our Bingo monies, we have completed many small, and not so small, updates on our parish facilities. I want to thank everyone who has been contributing in the Sunday collection. Because of your support, we are paying our bills on time without the use of fund raisers. One part of my ministry is so much easier when I do not need to worry if there is enough money to pay the operating bills of the parish.
My ministry as pastor is sometimes hard. There are times when I have to make decisions that are not what people want to hear. But, guided by the parish council, I/we try to look at what is best for the long term. When young priests or young people ask me what the hardest part of being a priest is, my answer over the years has not changed; “administration”. Young people, especially high school students tell me, “Father you just have to go to church every day.” My response has not changed over the years. “Yes I get to go to church, but I have to make sure the roof doesn’t leak, and that all the air conditioners/furnaces are working. Church is the fun part.” I ask that everyone to look into their hearts and see if they have something that they can share with our parish community. Please give of your time, your talent and treasure as we look to the future of St. Agnes Cathedral.