Dear sisters and brothers,
I pray you are well and enjoying this Fall weather. For me, it has always been a time of transition: from summer vacation to school, or from the quieter summer-life of a parish to the hectic Fall schedule. But I’ve always tried to set aside a little time to enjoy the changing of the seasons, especially the Fall color. I have high hopes for Michigan in this regard, although one person in Traverse City this past week warned me that many of the trees in the area have been replaced with vineyards. (I don’t think he is a wine enthusiast.)
I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit about our Redemptorist community. Our province, which consists of everything west of Detroit, has put a real emphasis on developing stronger community life and doing ministry as a team, and we as a community are strongly committed to this. Part of this is the separation of the jobs of pastor and rector. I am the pastor of the parish, which means I am ultimately responsible for anything that is associated with the parish. Fr. Tom Santa is the rector of the community and responsible for our Redemptorist lives together here in Grand Rapids. Besides that, he also has several Province wide ministries, such as, developing a Continuing Formation Program. Although, he is not assigned to the parish per se, he is willing to help out as his schedule permits, so you will see him celebrating mass.
I want to share our schedule with you in hopes that we can keep as much of this time as possible set aside for our community life, just as you (I hope) try to preserve part of your week as family time. It takes time and effort to develop a healthy and positive community, so that we are not just six guys living under the same roof. On typical weekdays we pray together twice a day, at 8:00 am & 5:10 pm, and then we have supper at 5:30. Sunday evenings after the 5:15 pm mass is reserved for some community activity, like a slower paced dinner, where we do the cooking, or the celebration of some special event. We also have some monthly events, such as our community meetings and days of retreat, which I will share as we have a chance to settle into a monthly routine. I realize that when emergencies arise time can often be of the essence, so please do not hesitate to contact us, regardless of the schedule. However, if it is something that can wait a bit, please try to be respectful of these time periods.
I also think it is important for priests to take some time off each week. You may think that all we do is say mass, but trust me, our weeks can become very busy, not to mention stressful. I know priests that never take a day off and it shows. I also know that if it is “whenever I get a bit of free time,” it will never happen. And so, I have assigned a day off for Fr. Bernie (Thursday), Fr. Chung (Friday), and myself (Monday). Again, emergencies arise and sometimes meetings and events can’t be rescheduled, and so, we will of course be flexible. But I do ask that you try to respect these days and even encourage your priests to take time off, so that we can be better ministers.
In the Redeemer, Fr. Rick