Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I heart my Pastor

I realize that I jumped from we're getting new priests to my pastor's homily from Ash Wednesday.

Fr. Ray is my favorite pastor, mainly for his I don't give a damn attitude.  I know he cares he just seems able to let the annoyances roll of his back the way water rolls off a duck's back.  I love that he says Mass and does liturgy correctly as in from the Roman Missal and doesn't care what others think about that.

Let me start from the beginning as that is a good place to start. When Fr. Ray first came I was torn because the man has a very thick exterior and I couldn't actually tell if he liked me or not and I couldn't tell if I liked him or not. I was leaning towards liking him, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure. I try to always look for the bright side and aspects of the new guys who come to the parish. I was constantly fighting the majority of the parish in liking the poor man and I still am. I finally got the chance to sit and talk with him on our youth ministry  retreat.

I was starting to see myself join the ranks of those it liking him, but I understand the man is busy running a parish, working as the archivist for the diocese and also as a professor at the seminary at Seton Hall.  So as someone who has had a church job and also multiple jobs at once, I know it is not easy to focus on one job all the time, so I was desperately looking for that one on one time and got it in the form of the Sacrament of Confession at our retreat.  I had finally seen the personal side of the pastor and loved it.

I was tasked with promoting my pastor when he first came to the parish by a priest in the diocese whom I love dearly.  So I took on that task and continue to do so today.  I will defend my pastor and his "lack of being at everything the parish does" because I know deep down he actually likes what he does and that he likes me. 

This was the first year I was able to partake in the Triduum fully at the parish and it was amazing.  Everything was done out of the Roman Missal and it was the first time in quite a while that I enjoyed being at the parish for said events.  At the Triduum and after our Lenten Tuesday night Catechism meetings I realized that all it took to get to know the pastor was to go to the events he was running.  He much like our dear Bishop is a teacher and full of knowledge, a knowledge that I one day would love to have.  I'm on the parish Liturgy Committee and I took those minutes I had in the "confessional" to finally get my say out about how annoyed I was with some of the things the committee was saying and how I felt about the state of the Confirmation program and about evangelization at the parish.  I laid it all out including the story of how I came to be on the Liturgy Committee and how I was the only one who would sit next to the pastor, and oddly at the next meeting Fr. Ray sat next to me and I know he wanted to sit next to me at the last meeting too, but the Committee is much like Church, your seat doesn't change and no one moves from their said spot.  So when Fr. George left and Fr. Martin came in Fr. Martin sat in the corner which is now Fr. Ray's spot whether he wants it or not.  

I'm tired of hearing people bitch and moan about the pastor, I keep wanted to say have you asked him to come over, he's not a mind reader.  He can't know what you're thinking of that you want him at everything.  We can't expect him to be at everything, it's just not possible. 

I know where I stand as at the end of Easter Vigil I make a point of saying hello and Happy Easter to the priests and deacons. I had talked to both vicars, and seen my top two deacons so I decided I should go say hi to the pastor as I probably won't see him tomorrow. I walked out and as he was talking to two of the Sisters who teach in the school, he turns and says, "Happy Easter Mary" and leaned in for the classic greeting/kiss.  It had taken 9 months but he finally used my name and despite all my joking of "oh no he actually knows my name" it was great.  The conversation then followed about the light that was on me as lector during the Vigil, it was a touch blinding as no other lights were on.  

The next day, other wise known as Easter Sunday meant that I was lector and EM at our gym Mass.  I got there early and no one, other than the choir, was in the gym which was weird but I went with it.  I was going over the prayers of the faithful as there was no deacon at the Mass and I would have to read them.  I apparently forgot how to read and just skimmed them as I didn't notice that one was repeated, I just noticed that it was crossed out, I asked our vicar if he knew why it was crossed out and he said no, maybe Msgr. knows.  Fr. Ray, in cassock and surplice, looked at me and said "it's repeated" I said, oh guess I should have read the whole page.  He followed up with she changed what I had written, I said I'm not surprised and went to but the binder back.  Fr. Ray was over to greet the people who were at Mass, a first for a pastor of our parish to actually do.  

A few weeks later we had Confirmation,  I as a catechist in the program was there to support my teens from youth ministry and those I actually taught.  I had gotten a random email asking me if I would serve as a "cup bearer" at Mass.  I said I'm around to serve as EM if necessary.  I walked into the sacristy and Fr. Ray greets me with "Miss Woolley, what can we do for you?"  I was thinking oh no he knows the last name too.  All kidding aside, I knew he knew my name, he just never called me by it.  The conversation continued with me asking about the set up for EMs and we discussed what would happen.  

I've found that since the youth ministry retreat Fr. Ray and I are both more friendly to one another, maybe it's the I understand your issues with the parish Father, I have the same ones or it's that I said but I like your ideas.  

His homilies are excellent, I haven't blogged about a homily since Fr. Brian was here.  For me it's just nice to have a pastor I feel comfortable being a smart ass around, I certainly couldn't do that with the last pastor, and Fr. George and I was friendly but we didn't see eye to eye on everything, I have a feeling that Fr. Ray and I would and do see eye to eye on everything.  

At the Triduum it just dawned on me that he had very quickly become my favorite pastor and that was a spot long held by Fr. George, who do a lot for me and to keep me in the parish.  I nearly walked away from the parish while it was under the last pastor, but I kept at it and because of Fr Ray I stayed.  When Fr. Ray came I had heard you're going to love him, he's great for your parish, and all of that good stuff from people who knew him.  I tried and keep an open mind and heart about it and sure enough I got to know the man slightly and lo and behold he is great for our parish and I do love him, now I hope he stays. He's not afraid to come and say and teach Church teaching.  He'll call out the New York Times on an ad, he'll tell you why abortion is wrong.  Maybe that's why I like him, he's authentic Catholic and not afraid to teach and defend Holy Mother Church.  

Hear that Bishop Serratelli, no moving my pastor, you can take one of the vicars, just not the one I like and send us the awesome deacon we had over the summer.  ;)  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ash Wednesday

So I started this post back on Ash Wednesday so I wouldn't forget Fr. Ray's homily.  I didn't forget the homily  but I am glad I wrote it down so I can blog slightly about it.

Let me back up a touch seeing as I have been away from here for nearly a year.  See a fair bit has happened over the past year and most of the stuff (read: blogging, crocheting, watching tv) brought with it good but sad memories, friends have come and gone.  Now that a year has past since that eventual day and there seems to be no returning to that friendship, why not at least try to get back to what I enjoyed.  The lack of blogging also stemmed from the lack of quality homilies at the parish as I used to blog about that the priests spoke about.

Our new pastor is amazing, I love him dearly, he has become my favorite pastor of all time and he's only been here 9 months.  It's like we had to give birth to the friendship or something.  More on him later, literally as I'm sure he'll play a big part in this blog.

I've been busy with work and more importantly youth ministry at the parish.  The teens of our parish are truly a gift to the parish and most especially the 3 of us "adults" who work with them on a weekly basis.  The teens can make me smile no matter my mood.  Anyway, I'm going to turn this into an Ash Wednesday, Triduum, Easter blog of sorts.

So Ash Wednesday I went begrudgingly to Mass, mainly because I knew I was going to surrounded by those that show up simply to get something and no matter how many times I say to myself, "at least they are here, maybe they'll return to the church." the bitch in me wins out and I grumble to myself and whine about how badly   people don't know the responses, how crappy the music it and over all how annoyed I am.  Then our pastor comes along and gives a homily about 3 types of people.  Now the homily was a while ago but I'm going to try and remember it as best I can.

So he talks about one of his first assignments as a priest and how there was a fire at the parish that gutted the church building.  He spoke of three types of people who came that night to see what was going on.  The first group of people were spectators, those that just show up to see what's happening, the next group are those that show up and lament over what they don't have anymore and don't come back, and the final group are those that show up and start planning the future and how to rebuild. I sat there thinking, how the hell is he going to get away with calling out those who are apart of groups one and two without pissing them off and I told him as much afterwards and that I was impressed with how well he got his point across.  He compared us to the groups: group number one those that just show up for the ashes, group number two those that come one or twice and don't come back and the third group those that come week after week. I sat there knowing that there were plenty of people there that only showed up to see what was going on, and plenty more who were out because they were getting something from the Church, I also knew that there was a good portion of group number three there too, as I and a few others who are very active in the parish were there.

Fr. Ray did a great job of saying while we all should fall into group 3 we don't always and he went on to explain how we fall into those groups.  Seeing as that homily was over 40 days ago and I still remember the basic idea of it I'm pretty damn impressed with his homily skills.

Ok I lied, I'm tired so this is only going to be an Ash Wednesday blog.  Hey at least I'm actually typing again.  ;)