On the occasion of the Feast of Pentecost, instead of my usual reflection, I’m going to ask you to join in a prayer with me. But before I do so, I want to share a bit about my relationship with this faith community.
Last week, on May 31st, I celebrated my 44th anniversary of ordination. Nineteen of those years have been spent as pastor of St. Jean’s. Since the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament arrived to begin ministry here in 1900, I’m the longest serving pastor. That being said, I must confess that I have been trained for very little of what I had to do.
I had no financial training. I had no administrative training. I had no training in construction and maintenance. But most of my years as pastor have been spent struggling to keep the parish afloat financially, and restoring and repairing the buildings of the parish campus. I used the only training I did have, theology, counselling and music, as the foundation for the real work I was commissioned to do, to be a pastor. But I must confess, that I was a fundraiser and contractor 80% of the time – a pastor 20% of the time.
It may seem that I’m confessing my personal shortcomings as a pastor. To a certain extent I am. At the same time, I’m proud to say that I was never left alone to “fight the good fight.” I had my community of priests and brothers who supported, advised and comforted me through many years of nervously acting on hunches, and endless multitasking.
There were many dedicated and loving people, who held me up. It was this army of angels, the priests, brothers, sisters and men and women of the parish, who ensured that the mission continued when their pastor was just keeping his head above water. They are the inspiration of my prayer today.
Very early on I realized that the parish isn’t the pastor. The parish, or Eucharistic Community as I often refer to it, is the Spirit-led people of God. After 44 years as a priest, and 19 years as pastor of Saint Jean’s, I can attest, without any hesitation, that a pastor’s primary mission isn’t maintenance or fundraising.
The pastor’s mission is to be a lightning rod for the Holy Spirit, instructing empowering and anointing the people of the faith community for their ministry. So today, with all my heart I pray:
you told us that you came
to spread fire on the earth.
Send your Spirit to each of us today.
Send us the Paraclete,
the counselor and consoler,
and divine teacher you promised.
Come, Holy Spirit,
blow your mighty wind over us.
Fan away all our doubts,
all our fears, and the hesitation
that separates us from your power.
Rain down your tongues of fire.
Lifting up our hands in praise
and prayer we join Mary in her hymn:
“May it be done to me
according to your word.”
We join in Jesus’ prayer:
“Not my will but yours be done.”
we offer ourselves to you.
Form us anew.
You are the potter, we are the clay.
Today, Lord Jesus,
we consecrate ourselves to you
and your mission.
We promise, from this day on,
to spread fire on the earth.