Fr. Paul Jarvis left a few things behind, and among them was a coffee mug that still sits
on my desk holding a supply of pens. The mug features a Roman collar worn by a
priest, and is the source for the title of this column.
As we transition into summer, I’ve had the chance recently to reflect on two big reasons
why I truly love my vocation of being a priest.
One is the people. Now truth be told, especially when one becomes a pastor,
challenges can arise. It only makes sense. When you are working with a staff, a lot of
people in a parish, and have a lot of things going on, inevitably there will be some
bumps along the way as you have all of these opinions converging, and someone has
to be responsible for making decisions. Perhaps one day I’ll include that side of ministry
in a book, but the column space here is limited.
What I would like to note though are the people who help you through the bumps, and
who make ministry such a blessing. And that is the people who are part of a parish
family. There are some parishes out there that aren’t healthy – where a few people “run
the show” or the priest shuts down new ideas, or that are bastions of gossip and
negativity, or the staff have “turf wars.”. Saint Joe’s is not one of them. And what I mean
by this is of course we aren’t perfect, but as I’ve been here now two years, I’m
continually amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit here. SO many good things happen.
The Spirit is the outpouring of the love between the Father and Son, and I feel that here
serving as the parish priest. I see it in the staff, in the volunteers, and in all the good
things that happen here. I really love coming into the office and being with the staff, who
work so hard behind the scenes day in and day out, and getting to know the great
people here who care so much.
Last week, it was so moving to get so many words of thanks as I marked the completion
of my first decade as a priest. But it was a reminder of how every day I am lucky to
come in to our parish and see first hand the power of the Holy Spirit in action. Being the
parish priest here, it really does fill one with a sense of joy, seeing how people truly love
their parish, and build one another up rather than tear one another down. And sadly,
that can happen in parishes out there.
So I’d first like to thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me in my
ministry as a priest and for all that you do to support me, and this great parish. I hope
you don’t mind but my plan is to stick around for a while.
The other reason I love my job? The school. Our year wraps up this week, and we have
a group of awesome eighth graders who prepare now to move on to high school. I love
our school. I love going to the school Mass, I love going into classrooms (where Kirby
continues to be far more popular than me but I’m fine with that) and seeing the love our
teachers have for helping our kids to grow in knowledge that will help them through life,
and prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven. Kelly Roche, our principal, has been
doing an amazing job as she finishes her first year, and we are so blessed to have her
and our great teachers. Next year, we open up our preschool, and we are excited to
begin this new chapter for our school.
And so, again, to all who have shown me such kindness, to all who do so much for our
parish family, and to all who care so deeply for Saint Joseph’s parish, thank you. May
we never forget that Christ is not gone in heaven just waiting for us, but alive and
guiding us through His love and the power of the Spirit. As we celebrate the sending of
the Holy Spirit this Pentecost Sunday, let’s not forget the Spirit didn’t just come on the
first Pentecost Sunday, but is still there to guide us, and strengthen us. Saint Joe’s has
so many good things going on, but the work is far from complete. Together, may we
move forward to continue that work, saying “we are Saint Joe’s” and working daily to
bring people closer to heaven through the love we bring into this world.
Have a blessed Pentecost Sunday!