22 June 2007

It's that time of year again

...for priests - and now deacons - to be transferred or reassigned. Bishop Lucas has had his hands full of assignments recently and they have been announced today in the Catholic Times.

As difficult as it is for a parish to lose a beloved priest, it is equally difficult for a priest to leave a beloved parish. It can also be quite daunting to move into a different parish.

At this time of year, prayer for the priests who are transferred and assigned as well as for their parishes.


  1. I have wondered how priests handle being moved. This last year we very suddenly lost one of our priests - he was moved to another parish to fill a position, was very needed there. Since there was no notice other than that very day, we had no time to give him a formal "goodbye" but it was easy to see how beloved he was (and remains!). He's one I got to know fairly well as he provided me some wonderful assistance and support in my first months of teaching RCIA. It's hard on US when a priest leaves, but how do you yourselves handle the attachments that form and must to some degree be broken? Do you maintain your friendships built at parish A even as you go to parish B, and how do you do that?

    It must be so stressful!

  2. I'm afraid I cannot yet answer that question; I have not yet been reassigned. When the time comes I know that it will be both joyful and sad, a bitter sweetness, if you will.

    Perhaps one of our priest readers can help with this question.

  3. It is always hard to lose a pastor or a priest in the parish. But I guess they are transferred so that they don't form any attachments.

  4. I know we will be losing our pastor over the winter - our diocese is merging parishes and we will be a victim of a merge. From past experience, the diocese learned to move a new pastor in to the new parish so no favoritism occurs. So, even though our pastor will be with us less than four years, he will be moved. And it will be very difficult since he has become a good friend of my husband, son and I. Fortunately our diocese is not large geographically, and we will keep in touch and see him as often as we can.

  5. That's part of it, Esther. Another reason is to share the priest's gifts and talents with other parishes when he seems needed elsewhere.

    I have been blessed enough to only have to experience two of my pastors - we had no vicars - transfer to other parishes. It is very difficult, yet blessings are always found. I commend you for wanting to stay in touch with your pastor, Ellen.

  6. I certainly understand the NEED to move a priest...in fact, our archdiocese generally gives a max of 12 years, but it's usually much less than this. (And for some reason, I'm thinking that it might actually be 6 years...so don't quote me!).

    There are people who form UNHEALTHY attachments, following certain priests wherever they go, which of course means they are following a person, and not Christ. There may be legitimate reasons to leave a parish when the priest does, but I'm not going to get into that.

    Attachments are human, and they are, to some degree, necessary. For some perspective; when I was returning to the Church (I'm a cradle Catholic revert - yes, a paradox), I remember sitting in the back of the sanctuary, not even wanting to approach the front. I thought I was a fraud. I avoided our priests at all costs because I figured they'd see through me. Long story...let's just say I reallly needed to go to Confession and I was avoiding it.

    So I went to certain Catholic social events, and met a few of our priests there, and slowly, got to know them in the appropriate contexts of the sacraments and some Catholic social events.

    What I've learned, and other solid Catholics agree with me, is that knowing our priests (I attend a large parish) really makes a difference in a parish becoming "home". It wasn't long before I knew I was home, and even though we've had other priests assigned since I've been here, my involvement has increased (from 0 to several things), and the sense of "family" has really come into play.

    We are created to be a community, and we need our spiritual Fathers in order to bring this huge family together. Thus attachments are needed....so I understand that by moving priests, not only is it a personnel issue, it has to do with trying to avoid or break UNHEALTHY attachments.

    But, that said, true friendships do develop and they are necessary. I know what it's like from the perspective of a lay woman, but I have to wonder how a priest, who could be moved at any time, handles it. I'm certain being a priest is not like being a sterile MD or psychoanalyst or what have you...it's much more personal, there's a family element, and empathetic people (which priests tend to be!) cannot help but care about the people they are sent to serve. We, in turn, cannot help but care about our priests!

    I just wonder how you (priests) handle the bonds you forge, how you keep up with people even as you meet your new parishes, etc. Perhaps this is more of a rhetorical/philosophical question.

    Perhaps it's one I should just ask of the priests I know, but at the same time, it seems appropriate for a larger discussion as it is a universal experience.

    There I go, being verbose again. I've been working on that for a long time and I don't think I'll ever stop being long winded!