Pastor's Corner 060913

posted Jun 5, 2013, 6:17 AM by Music Director

We are all saddened by the news that Fr. John Rossi, our faithful and dedicated Parochial Vicar, is to be transferred by Bishop Sullivan to new duties.  He will be greatly missed by all of us, none more than I.  I have greatly enjoyed living and working with Fr. John.  His priesthood has been a precious gift to this parish community and an inspiration to me.  This has been one of the happiest rectory-homes I have ever had the blessing to share, thanks to Fr. John and Fr. Vincent.  It won’t be the same without him, and there goes that “change” thing kicking in!  But it’s way more than that. 

               “Why do priests get moved around so much?”  You may but probably don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question these last 31 years!  The answer is simple:  because it is good, it is necessary. It is, and always has been, part of the nature of our calling.  Look at Jesus and His Apostles, on whom we priests model our lives.  How long did they stay in any one place?  Jesus-not long at all, but He had a whole nation to reach in a very short time.  The Apostles had more extended stays.  Still they kept moving on, like the Prophets before them.

               Practically speaking, each diocese has its own policies regarding the assignment of clergy, both priests and deacons.  Most, if not all, set terms, a specific length of time for each kind of assignment.  Terms provide priests with a sense of stability and security about our immediate future, while preventing us from getting too attached, too complacent, which can lead to problems. 

In our diocese, the term of office for a pastor is 6 years, renewable for a second term.  For parochial vicars, it is 3-5 years.  Why are terms much shorter for P.V.’s?  They are generally younger, less experienced ministers.  Moving more often provides more exposure to different communities, different realities, different expectations and demands before assuming the responsibilities of a pastor.  The more experiences, the greater the wisdom gained, which significantly aides our growth as priests, as Christians, as men, and especially as pastors, which most of us sooner or later will be.

Moving around exposes us to many more wonderful people like YOU, which uplifts and carries us in ways that are absolutely astounding and too numerous to count! It also exposes us to more of the “not-so-wonderful people,” the experience of whom at the very least has valuable lessons to teach that can lead to amazing growth that otherwise might never have happened, for the priest and the other!  I had 6 such assignments before becoming a pastor, and I am grateful for each and every one of them, for all these reasons, and many others.

But it hurts. Yes.  Of course it does!  This, too, has been from the beginning.  There’s a New Testament passage describing St. Paul leaving a community in tears, theirs and his own. (If you go to Mass regularly, you’ve heard it many times!)  As it was then, so now, and ever shall be.  But thank God it hurts! It means there is love!  Nothing’s sadder than a community rejoicing because one of their priests is leaving!  (No love lost there, eh?)  But we love Fr. John, and because of that no one here wants to see him go. 

It hurts him too because I know he loves us and loves having been a part of this awesome parish.  Leaving a community that has been home for years, being with people we’ve grown to know and love is never easy. (Well, almost never; but if it IS, something has been VERY wrong!) Still, this is a great opportunity for Fr. John, so if we really love him we have to be excited for him, wish him well, and keep him in our thoughts and prayers. 

I am exceedingly happy to have had this time to get to know him, grateful for these last 2 years living and working with him, happy for what his future holds, happy for the lives he will touch; happy that he is a priest of Jesus Christ and the Church of Camden.  Good luck and God bless you, Fr. John!  Ad multos annos! 


In His Love,

Fr. Mike