God bless you all! Both I and Fr. Paschal, our new parochial vicar, continue to feel so welcomed due to your amazing hospitality. It has made both our transitions that much easier. For Fr. Paschal, I believe, the transition has been much more of a challenge. This is only his second year in the United States, and the cultural differences are broad and deep. Again, thank you for welcoming Fr. Paschal as you have.
Last week I spoke about a shift in living accommodations for Fr. Paschal at the Masses at which I presided, and it was announced by the lectors when I wasn’t there. In the spirit of transparency, please let me offer this to you again. I have decided, in mutual agreement with Fr. Paschal and the Administrative Council, that the parochial vicar, currently, Fr. Paschal, should be given his own living quarters. This means that last week, Fr. Paschal moved into a nearby apartment on his own.
In the past, the priest have lived together at the parish house. I am fully aware that our parish is used to this. I am also fully aware that Msgr. Moys and past parochial vicars have struggled with this arrangement which has sometimes added to the tensions between them. It is the Archdiocesan standard today that each priest must have his own private bedroom and private office apart from the offices of the parish. The parish house violates this standard when two priests occupy the house. When the vicar of clergy traveled to Grants Pass for his own listening session prior to July, he recommended this change. On the part of Fr. Paschal, he has been requesting this change since before he arrived at our parish. For any pastor, it is problematic to live with one of his employees. Such a distinction (ref. the term “employee”) may be lost on some, since many still believe that “we priests are supposed to live together.” This is only true for religious order priests who make vows to a communal way of life. Diocesan priests make no such promise. Another troubling issue is the reality that our priests cannot privately host their own families or anyone else without it becoming, at some level, intrusive to the guests and the other resident priest. These are the main reasons we have chosen to give Fr. Paschal his own living quarters apart from the parish house. This decision brings our parish back into compliance with the Archdiocesan standards and will be the policy going forward for the priests who will come to us in the future.
The financial impact of this change has been accounted for, and I pledge to you that I, along with the Administrative Council, will strive to be the best stewards of the funds of the parish. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to talk with me, Fr. Paschal, or any of the Administrative Council member. If you ask Fr. Paschal, you will quickly find that he is very happy and thankful that this accommodation was made possible.
Remember to pray for us, your priests, that we will always stay focused on Christ and find peace and joy so that we may be about the mission of our Church. I believe that this new policy will go a long way to create a more life-giving situation for all our priests in the future.
Fr. William Holtzinger