My fellow parishioners are finally getting just what they want — they’ve succeeded in running the new priest of out town — and I’m ashamed.
You’ll remember I posted about this situation before, and sadly, it’s gone from Bad to Worse.
In case you don’t remember (or don’t want to read two posts today!), I’ll summarize: Our parish had a gregarious priest most people liked. A lot. Last year, our bishop swapped priests around the diocese in an effort to remind everybody (or so I’m guessing) that priests are temporary, while God is eternal.
It wasn’t a popular move locally. In fact, people were so
disappointed unhappy furious with the new guy that many stopped attending entirely, cut way back on their monetary contributions, switched membership to another parish, and held dozens of meetings to complain, malign, and try to persuade the bishop it wasn’t going to fly.
Not that the new priest was a bad man. He was, from what I could tell, a very holy man, a prayerful man. A man who might be better suited for monastic life than service as a parish priest.
His sermons were thought-provoking, his Masses reverent. But I suspect he looked on his one-year stint here as pure Hell. Any change he tried to make was criticized and rejected; and his ears must have been ringing constantly from the gossip taking place behind his back.
Didn’t Jesus command us to love our neighbors? To welcome strangers in our midst? And didn’t James (Ch. 3, vs. 5-10) remind us of the evils of the tongue?
So the bishop acquiesced. A new priest — and the revered pastor of a nearby church — will together take over the reins, effective immediately.
Who wins from this deal?
1) The priestly duo, who will share duties among three parishes.
2) The parishioners, who get their way at last.
3) The bishop, who becomes a good guy in the people’s eyes.
4) People like me, who hope the dissension is finally over.
Something tells me it’s setting a bad precedent for the bishop to let the people “win” this easily. What if they don’t like the next guy? What if some other parish in the diocese doesn’t like its priest? When do we stop the tail from wagging the dog?
But you know, I still think the biggest winner of all is the priest who gets to leave. Life is hard enough without having to endure hostility from one’s family, don’t you think?