Whether the pastor is staying and adding to his family of faith, or moving, in obedience to his bishop, Cardinal O'Malley, he is following in the footsteps of the Master; "for this purpose" is he ordained -- to serve God and his people.
Tears and rejoicing. Tears, a beloved pastor is leaving; rejoicing, a beloved pastor is staying. This is always the reality of changes in pastor assignments. Parishes are experiencing these emotions now as the names of pastors for the Phase III collaboratives have been announced. Statistically, it looks like this: of the 17 collaboratives, nine will keep a pastor currently serving in one of the parishes; seven will have a pastor new to the parishes, and in one collaborative, the current parochial vicar will step up as pastor. Pastors have been named, but they do not begin their new, collaborative assignment until June 2. Between now and then, barring unforeseen circumstances, they remain pastor -- or in some cases, administrator -- of the parish they are in right now, today. The Big Move happens in June. Preparation is key to smooth transitions. These 17 priests will come to the Pastoral Center for training in March and May and in the meantime, begin the process of saying goodbye and thinking about the road ahead.
In the Gospel this Sunday, we hear about Jesus curing Peter's mother-in-law and others. It must have been exhausting for him -- spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He is God, but he is human, too. People wanted him to stay a while, but he went off to a deserted place to pray. Mark tell us: "Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, 'Everyone is looking for you.' He told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.'"
Change is hard, and 43 faith communities will undergo significant change on June 2: the 36 parishes that comprise the Phase III collaboratives; the six parishes, not in a collaborative who will lose their pastor to a new collaborative; and Pastoral Center staff who will say goodbye to Father Kevin Sepe, Cabinet Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership, named to the Wellesley collaborative. But, like Jesus, beloved pastors are moving on to a nearby -- or not so nearby -- village to preach and shepherd a new flock. Whether the pastor is staying and adding to his family of faith, or moving, in obedience to his bishop, Cardinal O'Malley, he is following in the footsteps of the Master; "for this purpose" is he ordained -- to serve God and his people.
The list of pastors and collaboratives printed in The Pilot last week is repeated here. During this time of transition, our task -- whether we are in, about to be in, or not in a collaborative -- is to pray for the 36 parishes in Phase III collaboratives and the seven parishes who are losing a pastor to a collaborative. We pray as well in thanksgiving for the good priests who said "yes." They truly are Disciples in Mission.
Pastors and parishes:
Father Sean Connor -- St. Thomas, Braintree and Sacred Heart, Braintree/Weymouth
Father Brian Mahoney -- St. John and St. Mary, Chelmsford
Father Vincent Dailey -- St. Gregory, St. Matthew Dorchester and St. Angela, Mattapan
Father Linh T. Nguyen -- St. Mark and St. Ambrose, Dorchester
Father Jack Ahern -- Holy Family, St. Peter and Blessed Mother Teresa, Dorchester
Father Richard Clancy -- St. Marguerite, Dracut, St. Rita, Lowell and St. Mary Magdalene, Tyngsboro
Father Brian Manning -- St. Mary, Franklin
Father Richard Burton -- St. Mary, Georgetown/Rowley
Msgr. Paul Garrity -- Sacred Heart and St. Bridget, Lexington
Father Tim Harrison -- Holy Redeemer, Merrimac/West Newbury and Immaculate Conception, Newburyport
Father Kevin Toomey -- St. Agatha, Milton
Father Joseph Mozer -- St. Martha, Plainville and St. Mary, Wrentham
Father Brian McHugh -- St. Joseph, St. Ann and St. Catherine, Somerville
Father Robert Casey -- St. Bridget and Gate of Heaven, South Boston
Father Steven Madden -- St. Vincent, St. Monica/Augustine, and St. Peter, South Boston
Father Kevin Sepe -- St. Paul and St. John, Wellesley
Father Charles Higgins -- St. Albert and St. Francis Weymouth
SUSAN ABBOTT IS COORDINATOR OF PARISH OUTREACH FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON'S OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING.
Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.