Sorry to those faithful readers, many of whom I have met and spoken too over the past few months as you asked, “Are you still going to write your vocation blog?”
The answer is “Yes,” coupled with the caveat from last summer that if I didn’t post an entry for a while, it was because the semester workload was a priority. This spring semester, the workload of seven courses won out over blog posts. Sorry … but it might happen again sometimes, so thanks for your understanding and continued prayers.
A quick update for friends and family, of things that can be checked off:
- Completed my academic program at Immaculate Conception, and graduated with my second M.A. in theology on May 15th.
- Sold my home in Mount Laurel, so Sea Isle City is now “home” when I am not in my parish.
- Completed by diaconate assignment at OLPH/Saint Agnes, having formed some wonderful friendships with Father Bill, Father Michael, and the great parishioners who call Atlantic Highlands and the Highlands “home.”
- Moved out of Seton Hall, and moved into Saint Robert Bellarmine in Freehold, NJ, as my “home” for this next “pastoral year.”
Some have asked me, “What is a pastoral year?” For my continued formation to the priesthood, a pastoral year is one that is spent full-time in a parish, gaining experience in all that makes up the rhythm of parish life. So far, that has included participation in various parish committee meetings, and some particular projects as outlined by my pastor, Monsignor Sam. I am excited about the experiences that will become part of my formation in the coming twelve months for a few reasons.
First, it is extremely valuable to experience life in a parish outside of weekend liturgies. Through my decade of service as a deacon, I have a sense of those duties, both liturgical and pastoral, such as marriage preparation and bereavement services. My experience of the administrative side of the parish has been limited, and this year will offer me a depth of experience in this area. Saint Robert Bellarmine is a busy, large parish community, so there will be varied experiences of many types in the weeks ahead.
Second, I am extremely fortunate to be connected once again with an old friend (or should that be “long-time” friend?) Monsignor Sam and I first met in 1984 when he was a newly ordained priest, serving his initial assignment at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Moorestown. We had the opportunity to work together three decades ago, and I am now to be the beneficiary of those three decades of priestly experience during this pastoral year. Along with Father Ed, our parochial vicar, I am truly blessed to have these men share their life’s experience in ministry with me. If these first two weeks are any indicator, I will be profoundly wiser in twelve months in regard to the everyday life of a parish priest.
Third, I have been welcomed to Freehold, NJ, by another friend, Deacon Rolf, who is both the parish manager here at Saint Robert's and a classmate from my diaconate class of 2004. In just a few days, Freehold has already begun to feel like "my neighborhood" through the welcome of these old friends and new acquaintances among the parish.
Please keep me, and all my brother seminarians in your prayers, along with all the priests, bishops and faculty members who continue to prepare us to serve God’s People. I promise that you will see more regular posts in the months ahead, now that the academic schedule is in the rear-view mirror.