16 March

Some thoughts on what is going on in my home diocese where I am retiring to in a few weeks:

  • Today in my hometown paper there was a more or less detailed story about one of our priests, who I was in the seminary with and have known almost 50 years off and on. We were not always of the same mind on whatever issue was current. Publicly in an open letter he confronted our bishop over the parish closing and mergers. I respect him. I know he has always had a cause. Also, he is pastor of a parish that has been prominent in my mother’s side of the family. I understand where he is coming from on this issue, and I agree with just about all of what he says. From what I hear, the morale of the priests is very bad. If  it were not for my sisters and brother-in-law being there, I would not go back.
  • However, I also believe in the grace of orders, and our bishop has made the choice to act as he has acted. There was a valid need to realign the diocese, but the way he did it might well have been improved on. In Army understand, either his staff did not serve him well, or he ignored his staff. At least, he has bad PR. It disturbs me that he needs police protection when he celebrates Mass, and that he is so badly treated when he celebrates the closing liturgy at parishes. However, I understand the people’s feelings, too. In a sense, he has brought it on himself. He does come across as imperious. I’m glad I’m not there for this. I’m not sure what my position would be. I do not like to see the police abused or taken for granted.
  • As an Army Chaplain I am familiar with ministering to a commander or senior level person at whatever level and helping  him/her deal with the consequences of their decision, even though I might disagree with the decision itself, as well as the way it is executed. We chaplains know that the leaders and commanders need a pastor, no matter who they are or what their rank or position might be. We have learned to put our personal feelings aside and beg the Lord’s grace just to minister to one of his people. It gets easier, but never easy. It is one of the many awesomely humbling areas of military ministry.
  • I have had a few thoroughly enjoyable  interactions with my hometown bishop. I think I have even ministered a bit. I would like to keep this up, if this is what grace intends, if it might be needed. I want to think he means well. I don’t think he knows the territory.
  • I anticipate a certain amount of independence, since I have a pension, social security, etc, and will not take a salary or benefits from my home diocese. I  will not live in a rectory. I have a nice place of my own. I hope nobody sees this as a threat. I want to retire, and work very hard in the diocese doing “fill” to help out the local priests however the bishop wants. I do not want to sit back and do nothing. Also, I do not want to get involved with parish politics anywhere. If the bishop so desires, he has the full services of a priest without any cost to the diocese.
  • I would like to be in a position where I can reach out to anyone who feels left out or ignored by the institutional church. I feel my time in the  Army has given me a bit of an open mind and acceptance of people as they are.  Pope Benedict’s words that “each of us is the consequence of a thought in the mind of God, every one of us is important, everyone of us is necessary, none of us is an accident”, have had an impact on me. I hope to be able to live them.
  • As a good friend reminds me from time to time, “the game is foot . . .”. God is moving me along, and is weaving some simply infinite journey much as she has done in my service in the Army. I can’t wait. I hope I’m up to it. I suspect it will not be easy.
  • Even though I’ve never been in the “sandbox”, the great, maybe even operative phrase in my life these days seems to be “In sh’ allah”. I think I’m good with this. It’s OK.
  • I’m just so totally impressed with my brother and sister Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants that I’ve been privileged to serve with, especially the ones I’m serving with now at at FSGA/HAAF. Every one of them truly is the “consequence of a thought in the mind of God”.
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