Last weekend saw the transfer of several of our priests. Even though all priests know that our service to the Church requires that we be ready and willing to accept a new assignment at any time, it still can be difficult to leave behind familiar surroundings and close friends. My heartfelt thanks to our priests — and our deacons — for so graciously accepting these moves.
I know that many of them were quite happy were they were, and that their parishioners were equally happy having them. Nevertheless, these clergy responded to my request that they accept a new assignment with the ready obedience that they promised on the day of their ordination.
I have heard it said that a bishop needs the wisdom of Solomon when it comes to clergy assignments. Be assured that I do not claim that gift. What I have is a remarkably diligent personnel board who advise me on all priest assignments. For months before transfers are announced, these men spend many hours prayerfully considering both the good of the priests and the good of the parishes and sharing their thoughts very candidly with me. What many may not understand is that the necessary move of a single priest often means the move of one or more others. I value immensely the counsel of the members of the personnel board, as I do the advice of Deacon David Illingworth, director of the Office for the Ministry and Life of Deacons, who, after consultation with pastors, proposes the assignment/transfer of permanent deacons.
When new assignments are announced, most every diocesan bishop, myself included, can expect to hear from some of the faithful of the diocese. They usually register their disappointment at the loss of their priest. As I mentioned above, change is difficult for everyone, but clergy transfers are never done arbitrarily or without intense and scrupulous attention to the gifts and skills of the individual priest and the needs of the diocese.
As you likely noted this year, there are times when I think that all our assignments have been confirmed — even announced — and there is need to make a change or two. This means it’s back to the drawing board, realizing that even one more change can affect several others.
In spite of all this, I am always edified by the warm reception our priests receive when they take up their new assignments. I think that this points to the fact that the Catholic faithful know that, even though there is a new parish priest, the Church founded by Jesus Christ is still the same, and the priesthood that he instituted at the Last Supper will continue to serve the worship of God and the needs of the faithful.
Please welcome the new priest — or deacon — at your parish. Let them know of your love and support. They come with only one intent and hope, and that is to serve God and his Church. And please pray for all our priests — those who are active in the full-time ministry, as well as those who are enjoying well-deserved retirement. And please pray for me. We must never forget that without priests there is no Eucharist; and without the Eucharist there is no Church.
I am very pleased to announce that six new men will be entering seminary formation for our diocese in the fall. There are many who must be thanked for this extraordinary number of new seminarians. First, of course, we thank God who has called these men. And we thank them for joyfully accepting that call. I am deeply grateful to my two associate vocation directors, Father James Baron and Father Kyle Ingels. Their encouragement of these new candidates has been very important in their vocational discernment. My thanks, too, to the members of our wonderful Serra Club. These are the dedicated women and men who pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as well as give support to them as they pursue their vocations.
And I thank all of you who continue to ask God to give us good priests. God bless you, and God bless our priests and seminarians.