I found out this week that my pastor is being reassigned. It came as a shock to us, because it is so sudden. We joined the parish more because of the pastor, because we didn’t really know anyone in the parish. But at the time, we were searching for a more orthodox parish because our orignal pastor…wasn’t.
I have always said that I belong to the Catholic faith because Jesus is present in the tabernacle, and is there at every Mass. I have also said that you should not join or leave a parish because of the parishoners. Now I will say it’s more important to feel a sense of belonging. Pastors come and pastors go. They do get reassigned, not that they’re unimportant. But in general, when you attend mass regularly at a particular parish, you grow roots. You start to get to know people, good and bad, and you start to be part of another dysfunctional group. (Of course, any human group is dysfunctional!)
I also firmly believe it’s not a good idea to go to only one parish. I attend a parish every day in a different city and diocese from which I work. I have friends there, even though I’ve been there only a few months. I also have roots in a lot of parishes in my diocese, friends I don’t see unless I visit. But you also get the different personalities. Yes, every parish is unique, every Catholic Church, it seems, is unique (just look at the picture of the Wies Church, near Munich, Germany). And every place I go, I try to visit the cathedral and a parish. I’ve been to the cathedrals in DC, NYC, Rome, Nassau (Bahamas), New Orleans, Atlanta, SF, Oakland, LA, just to name some. We go to shrines nearly everywhere we go. I’ve heard good and bad preaching, but I do still sense that, regardless of the priest, Christ is still present.
The point is that, while the pastor is important, he is just passing through, in most cases. He’s a pawn in the bishop’s hand. And when you change bishops, as we have twice in 6 years, they have different ideas of who belongs where, or who can fill a need in a different place.
I also spent a couple of days thinking that the parishoners had something to do with pushing the pastor out. But knowing the bishop a bit, I don’t think so. There have been pastors under duress (that I didn’t particularly care for, too), that I, in my opinion, could see needed to be relocated; the bishop, in his wisdom, didn’t move them. So there’s usually a reason, even if the congregation, and even the pastor himself, don’t know it. And it’s not good to speculate.
So my advice would be to cherish a pastor you care for, but always honor the pastor, even if you disagree with him. We’re going to move on, and hopefully stay where we’re going until I get assigned as a deacon, if I even make it that far. I’ve heard it say that, if you want to make God laugh, plan something…
God bless you.