May the Lord give you peace!
As you know, we have been extremely blessed to have two full time parochial vicars (associate pastors) serving the people of God at the Church of the Magdalen. Fr. Matt and Fr. Chris are almost ready to complete one year of ministry as priests of God. They have done a fantastic job during their time at the Church of the Magdalen.
I have been intent on introducing a mission model of priestly ministry and parish life vs. a maintenance model of priestly ministry and parish life. With a maintenance model, the Church of the Magdalen really only needs one priest. In this model, we would have one daily Mass, no Saturday morning Mass, and three Masses on Sunday. We would offer confessions for one hour each week on Saturday afternoon from 4:00-5:00pm. With one priest, there would be few additional opportunities for developing hospitality, prayer, formation and service. The priest’s ministry to the school wouldn’t be much more than daily Mass and a weekly meeting with the principal, Mrs. Schmitz.
The mission model of priestly ministry and parish life is much different. The mission model of priestly and parish life focuses on accompaniment. Accompaniment is much more than communication, which is a primary focus of the maintenance model. Yes, excellent communication is essential. Writing this bulletin article is mostly communication. However, accompaniment is much more than communication. Most communication can happen from behind a desk. Accompaniment is personal. It means personally walking with people, personally forming people, helping people discern and teaching them to pray. For priests, it means getting out from behind the desk and “coming to know the smell of the sheep,” as Pope Francis states. It involves creating a culture of encounter and greater collaboration with parishioners in carrying out the mission of the parish which is “to create a family of stewards through personal prayer, public worship, Catholic education, ministry to one another and the community at large.”
With that said, effective mission driven ministry requires that priests regularly fill the reservoir of their souls through good leisure, study and prayer. Summer is an optimal time for priests to take retreats, go on vacation and attend workshops to enrich their ministry.
After reviewing the summer calendar, it appears that during most weekdays of the summer one of us three priests will be gone on retreat, on-going formation or vacation. Accordingly, from June 3rd through August 14th we will not have an 8:00am daily Mass Monday through Friday.
We will continue to have a 7:00am Mass Monday through Friday each week, a 5:30pm Mass Tuesday through Friday of each week, and, an 8:00am Mass on Saturdays. The weekend schedule will remain the same.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, Fr. John F. Jirak