Tomorrow is July 6th, and the official date of the 2017 clergy summer assignments taking effect in the Greensburg diocese ... and thus my official date of retirement from active parish priestly ministry. I turn over my keys to the kingdom and relinquish my responsibility to sign checks and pay parish bills. I take on a new role, that of retired priest. I must admit that when I was ordained, I never envisioned such a moment, and even now, ever since I requested retirement in January from Bishop Malesic due to health issues, I wonder if this is the right move. Reality says YES, but the uncertainty of the future prompts me to say - are you sure. But it is time, and I am ready for the next chapter. Tomorrow I wake up and will no longer be pastor. But tomorrow I will wake up and still be a priest of the Lord, continuing my journey and sharing the Good News in differing venues and opportunities. It is exciting, and a bit frightening, so pray for me.
The daily readings these past days have been about the call of Abram. The Lord saw this good man and chose him for a purpose. He told Abram that if he trusted the Lord, he would become the father of a people greater than the stars in the sky or the sands on the seashore. God promised that he would be the God of Abram, and that Abram would be his son. The only thing required was faith in God and trust in his word.
But God told Abram to pack up everything and to move to a new land. When asked where, God said that he would tell him when he got there. Thrust him. Abram did, and moved into the uncertain future with the assurance of faith. And Abram was seventy-five at the time.
As I heard these readings, I saw the Lord inviting me to "pack up" and move to a new land of opportunity, into an uncertain future but with the promise of the Lord's faithfulness. And he reminded me that Abram (Abraham) was actually five years older than me when he trusted and moved on. If he could do so and make a difference in the world, whom am I to doubt.
So tomorrow begins a new experience of priesthood. Some things will not change immediately - my apartment at Neumann House, the Priests' Retirement Residence in Greensburg is not yet ready for my move, so I will remain in my present residence for a few more weeks, thanks to the generosity of our new pastor, Father John Moineau. But "all my bags are packed, I'm ready to go" and have survived the ordeal of downsizing. The good-bye's have been many and very emotional. My level of mental and physical exhaustion is high. And I am ready to rest and relax, to re-create and renew, to adjust and unwind.
JOURNEY THOUGHTS will continue to be an important part of my new life and ministry. I will attempt to get back on track in sharing reflections from the Scriptures and personal stories and experiences. I guess that I will have to change the subtitle of the blog, since I am no longer a parish priest, but I haven't found one that I like as yet ("reflections of an old timer" doesn't do it for me). In the meantime, please pray for me as I enter this new phase of priesthood ... and I will pray for you, and be grateful for your faithful reading of these posts.