On the Road – Pastor’s Reflection (August 16, 2015)
The other day I stopped in a neighborhood store and the kind lady at the counter said, “Father, all of sudden I see you walking past our window all the time.” I explained the new circumstances of life and ministry, and thought to myself that hurrying along from place to place is the pattern of life we inherited from St. Dominic. Tuesday of this week brought confirmation of this perception. Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan and I crossed paths as I walked from St. Catherine’s to St. Vincent’s to say a memorial Mass: he was traveling in the opposite direction to resume hospital visits after saying the 12:10 Mass at St. Vincent’s. To see my Brother striding purposefully to his next task renewed in a moment my commitment to a life of movement.
As we move through the day, so we move through life. For church people in general, and Dominicans in particular, movement offers one of the principal challenges of life. How do I as a contemplative person mine the riches of each moment, without clinging to it? How do I as a minister manage to be present to the people God places in my path, without hanging on to the familiarity of the encounter? How do I commit to making community with my Brothers, when assignments in and out change the community rapidly and suddenly.
I find answers in the kind of encounter I had with Fr. Vincent Ferrer on 67th Street. Built into daily life are icons of the whole of life, little epiphanies in which the mind grabs a normal moment and catches a glimpse of the very big picture. These moments anchor me and direct me at times of great flux. I find that if I live in the present then I am available to recognize these moments of clarity that flow from God’s providence. As I understand it, the concept of the “New York Minute” captures the great depths the present moment holds for those open to receiving it.
I know that when I am nostalgic for the past, or anxious about the future, the present bars me from its deep places. By contrast, I perceive the present when I ground myself in God’s Providence. If I take His care as my point of departure then He gives me glimpses of how He is orchestrating what looks like chaos to me.
With that forgoing as introduction, let me mention to you some movements that will affect our new Parish in its first weeks.
Between our two communities we hosted eight Student Brothers this summer. They came to New York to get ministerial experience, but they also enlivened our common life, and brought musical depth to our common prayer. They have left us to return to the House of Studies in Washington, and we are adjusting to the quiet.
Next week, Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan will follow them and begin graduate studies in music at the Catholic University of America. He has given us two months of compassionate ministry in the hospitals and gracious ministry at both of our altars.
St. Vincent Ferrer Priory will be welcoming the return of Fr. Albert Paretsky. After some years teaching Scripture in our Western Province, he will be sharing with us his insightful and erudite preaching. We are glad to have him back.
Within the next ten days, St. Catherine’s Priory will welcome Fr. Joseph Allen. Fr. Allen has just completed a long term of service as Pastor of our Parish in New Haven, CT. No doubt he will bring new energy to our whole apostolate.
As previously announced in St. Catherine’s Bulletin, Daniel Sanez will complete five years of making splendid music for us and take up a position as Director of Music at the Cathedral in Richmond, VA. This is a marvelous recognition of Daniel’s talent and dedication. I hope you can attend his recital after the Noon Mass at St. Catherine’s this Sunday, August 16. Also, please make plans to join us in wishing him well after the Noon Mass on August 30th, his last Sunday with us.
This week I had a great phone conversation with Fr. Jordan Kelly. Naturally, he misses everyone at St. Catherine’s a very great deal. At the same time, he has settled into his quarters at Providence College and is embracing the blessings of his well-earned sabbatical.
Finally, I should mention that I will be away from the parish from August 16 until August 26. I am privileged to preach the annual retreat for the Student Brothers of our Central and Southern Provinces. This will take place at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Southern Indiana. After that, I will cross the Ohio River and be with my parents in Louisville.