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.  ;)  

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