Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NEW BEGINNINGS AND THE GRACE OF FAITHFUL CATHOLICS WHO PULL TOGETHER TO GET THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES!



Thursday marks the new beginning for many of our parishes in the Diocese of Savannah.

At St. Joseph Church, Macon, Fr. Justin Ferguson concludes his three years as parochial vicar and continues at St. Teresa Church outside of Augusta. Fr. Dawid Kwiatkowski begins his priestly ministry here at St. Joseph Church.

My former parish in Augusta, Georgia, The Church of the Most Holy Trinity, will be getting its fourth pastor since I departed in 2004! Father Jacek Szuster becomes their yet again new pastor. I was Most Holy Trinity's pastor from 1991 to 2004. When I arrived in 1991, they had been without a pastor for over a year, having three administrators in that time period! Because of that, I was warmly received almost as the Messiah!

It happens that in the life of some parishes, there is upheaval when a pastor leaves and another one arrives. Priests have to adjust to new parishioners and parishioners have to adjust to priests.

When problems arise in parishes due to the skills or lack of skills especially administrative skills that not all priests possess, people can react in a positive way and pull together or they can react in a negative way and create even more problems and further divisions. People, meaning clergy and laity since we are all people, can be fickle in that way. I think it is due to Original and Actual sin. Perfection is not to be found on this side of heaven.

In Protestant Churches, especially congregational ones, when parishioners have difficulties with their pastors, polarization usually occurs with parishioners either supporting the status quo or wanting to change things. The group that looses usually goes and creates another church or they go to another Church. Usually charismatic leaders arise in these situations either to exacerbate the problems by become pseudo structures exerting a false authority or to bring healing and unity under the legitimate authority of the parish, i.e bishop and pastor.

Catholics are suppose to be different. We are suppose to be united under the institution of the bishop and the pastor the bishop sends. We are to respect these offices and the legitimate authority that comes with these offices and respect what Church law requires of us in being Catholics united in a parish and her pastor.

When problems arise we shouldn't set about to create alternative structures of leadership, to obsessively seek out the wrong and make it right or to polarize the parish through proving one side is right and the other is wrong. We shouldn't grasp an authority that is not ours for the taking in other words.

Thank God for the rank and file Catholics who attend Mass each Sunday, support the parish through thick and thin with their offerings of prayer, talent and treasure and seek to pull together to get parishes through difficult times. They are the silent majority, the "sensus fidelium" and God bless them for their faith, loyalty and love and their quiet ability to bring people together under their bishop and their pastor rather than to tear apart and create havoc, pour fuel on anger and light the match to destroy.

16 comments:

Frajm said...

I delete comments that castigate because it is a sin against charity especially when half truths are used in a dogmatic way against someone. But the point was about transparency. It appears that when that transparency was offered in the most generous way by the chief shepherd, it was met with the same type of vitriolic nonsense has prevailed in a very small, obsessed group within the parish who will be satisfied only when they are proven right and therein lies the divisiveness that has entered into this small group. Thank God for the majority that come together in a spirit of Christian charity to overcome obstacles and do so to make Christian charity, the greatest gift God has given us, transparent! Every other concern is dross compared to that.

Anonymous said...

I feel sympathetic towards those parishioners who don't have the benefit of a stable pastor.
Perhaps the Bishop of a diocese sees his role primarily as a shephard of the priests and church buildings. It leaves me wondering about what goes on in a Bishop's mind with regards to this. Does he understand fully the ill pastoral effects upon the individuals of the congregations, as well as the congregations as a whole, when he allows a parish to become known for the short stay of a pastor?
I certainly don't mean to be uncharitable here. It's just that one wonders if he really gets it.
Perhaps, it's just that his primary concern cannot be about that. Perhaps in his role he has to put that issue secondary or tertiary, and trust that the priests themselves will take care of that at the 'grassroots' level.

With regards to infighting and such: that's such a terrible sad shame.
When Catholics do that it is especially tagic.
~SqueekerLamb

Frajm said...

The problem began when the first pastor assigned after me left ten months later to take a seminary assignment. If he had stayed I think things would be stable now although much different than when I was there, but that's how it is when a new pastor comes. The second pastor was there for three years and mismanaged the money by redirecting a good portion of the money to their struggling school and not making payments to the diocese. This he kept hidden especially from parishioners. He's the cause of the problems, but the next pastor who came in to clean up the mess got the blame because he didn't have the happy go lucky personality of the one who messed it up. On top if that there were the normal adjustments that parishioners have to make with a new personality and a new direction. A small, well organized vocal group starting making accusations against him and his management style and about others on the staff and through an email campaign and other meetings made life miserable for him. He needed out because of this small group who became unreasonable in what was originally justifiable concerns, only misdirected. I'm very disappointed in quite of few of them because they know better.

pinanv525 said...

They sound just like Baptists.

Frajm said...

Again, I deleted a comment because of gratuitous lack of charity, lack of the knowledge of history of the parish and decisions made in the past and down right obsessiveness when it comes to being a vigilante! It's got to cease, that's the only way to move forward.Stop being the problem become the solution! Stop in the name of God! God to confession and start over!

Anonymous said...

Frajm. Your censorship is confusing, especially when your words describe your own writing.

pinanv525 said...

Anon who says Fr. words describe his writing. You are, undoubtedly, a proctologist's dream of Paradise...

Anonymous said...

PIN. Leave the unwarranted name calling to Frajm. Remember that pooch we discussed? In this case I and others targeted by his monologue are the “pooch.” At least my head is far removed from his or my own “Paradise.”
To understand the situation you would need to carefully re-read his monologue at the beginning of this thread and read my comment which he refused to print, with the above explanation. Unlike Frajm, his targets experienced the situation first hand while he relies on hearsay from those who caused the problem in the first place. He wasn’t there and neither were you, so you should inform yourself instead of changing the color of your nose by following too closely behind him.
I’m reminded of a professional fighter who taunts and name-calls his opponents but then refuses to allow them into the ring? Examine his monologue introducing this thread in light of the Eighth Commandment. He started other threads on this blog casting unwarranted aspersions toward the same targets.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification regarding that particular parish, frajm, although I was speaking in generalites. Yet, now I'll quit wondering what goes on in the mind of a Bishop and just go back to trusting that he has a very good reason for the decisions of this nature that he makes.
Those of us on the outside would never have imagined such tragic shenanigans. How sad.
Hopefully things are on the mend there now.

~SqueekerLamb
P.S. But now I'll know to read between your lines..;)

pinanv525 said...

Anon, I cannot find the name calling and aspersions you cite in Fr.'s monologue. Clearly, you must be one of the group with whom he finds fault and are munching sour grapes.Fr. has some insight into the history of the parish in question, and I know Catholics who live in Augusta who also know something of the issue. There are, indeed, two sides to the story and Fr. is speaking his own opinion. He is not required to be neutral...this is a blog.
Now, as to my following too close behind him...not really. But, I do happen to agree with much of what he says and with the things he is doing at St. Joseph's. The Church is thriving and growing and there is a richness to the worship life that is gratifying. As for this blog, he has posted tons of stuff about liturgy, history, Canon Law, the Catechism, the devotional life, and Catholic identity, all of which have served to educate and enrich those who care to pay attention. What have you, or Ignotus, or a couple of the others who come here to bitch and whine contributed? *crickets chirping*

Oh and, Pooch, you must have enjoyed it because you keep coming back for more with your tail in the air...

Anonymous said...

Father, I am a parishioner of MHT and honestly was unaware that all of this silliness was going on around me before reading it here. I believe that the people embroiled in this controversy represent a very small minority of the parish.

As you are aware, MHT is an unusual parish in that probabaly most parishioners drive quite a distance to be a part of this church. I am one of the many members from SC. Perhaps it is that physical distance that protects many of us from this sort of unpleasantness. Please pray for our parish and our new pastor!

Frajm said...

I've been praying so much for you guys that my knees hurt! Andy yes, you confirm what I already know, the vast majority of parishioners are supportive, financially, spiritually and otherwise of the parish, her employees and ministers. That is a great blessing and the silent majority will be victorious in Christ!

Anonymous said...

Father, I just wanted to share my to the comment that you made: "The second pastor was there for three years and mismanaged the money by redirecting a good portion of the money to their struggling school and not making payments to the diocese. This he kept hidden especially from parishioners. He's the cause of the problems, but the next pastor who came in to clean up the mess got the blame because he didn't have the happy go lucky personality of the one who messed it up. On top if that there were the normal adjustments that parishioners have to make with a new personality and a new direction."

As a person in the pews at MHT, I can assure you that it is not common knowledge in that church that the former paster left for the reason that you stated above. Most there believe that there was another reason entirely for his sudden departure. Perhaps both reasons are true.

I can't help but wonder how things might have been different if the parish were better informed about what was really going on instead of relying on the rumour mill for information. Keeping the parish in the dark about such issues gives oppourtunity to individuals who may want to stir up trouble.

I love MHT and pray that our new pastor will be welcomed and treated with the respect he deserves as he goes about healing these divisions.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts in the blog!

Anonymous said...

How about renaming the blog? "Hit and Run" might be appropriate.

pinanv525 said...

Anon, you mean they're to name the Blog after you? How grandiose...

Rbusse said...

God has truly blessed us at MHT with a very loving and down to earth pastor.He has gone out of his way to make himself acessable to all parish members.He truely gives of himself 100%.He has done well in a short period of time.