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On Being Pastor

It has now been a little over seven months since I became the Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church.  It has been a busy seven months.  As I have written before we have a lot going on, ranging from our church with Sunday attendance over 700, a parish school, and two cemeteries.  I’m the type of person who is involved in almost everything so I keep very busy.  We are in the design stage for some upcoming building repairs on the church and office.  We’ve recently started a strategic planning initiative for our parish school.  I wrote recently about the presentation I did about my own faith journey.

During Lent, I will be doing two more presentations.  The first will be “Talking to God: A Conversation About Prayer” on Monday, February 25th at 7 p.m. in the parish hall.  Here I will talk about how we enter into prayer and our attitude in prayer and ask do we listen to God in Prayer?  The second talk will be “Talking About God: Sharing Our Faith” on Monday, March 18th at 7 p.m. in the parish hall.  Here I will talk about how we find words to describe what God means to us so that we might share it with others.  And soon I hope to record a short two-part video on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

It might seem to some that I am “tooting my own horn” about how much I am doing.  If you know me well, then you would know I do all this not for my own good but to fulfill the ministry that I believe God has called me to.  I hold myself to a high standard because I take seriously the words in the Book of Jeremiah about the bad shepherds and the story found in Ezekiel 3:17-21.  It is my role as a pastor and priest to help each person that I minister to deepen their relationship with God.

My support for the school is all about helping the students to know God so they may fulfill his calling to them.  When I do these presentations, it is to help the people know God more fully.  When I write here on the blog, it is my attempt to help each of you see how our faith is relevant in our world today.  It isn’t about me.  It’s all about Jesus.

I do all this knowing that I am not perfect.  For instance, for my talk on prayer on February 25th, I don’t profess to be a great expert in prayer.  When I did my first presentation in January, people asked about prayer.  So, I just hope to share what prayer means for me and hope the people who come can relate to what I share to help find what works for them in prayer.  What works for me doesn’t work for everyone.  Ultimately, prayer is meant to draw us into a deeper relationship with God.

Prayer can be a struggle for many.  People tell me that their prayers aren’t answered.  I know part of my personal prayer as pastor is asking God to tell me what I’m supposed to be doing before I do it.  I joke about how nice it would be if God sent an email each morning telling me exactly what to do.  It doesn’t happen.  Sometimes in prayer God does direct me beforehand.  At other times, after prayer, I do my best, and I find later God gives me assurances that things are going the way he wants.  An example of this lies in our Strategic Planning Committee for our school.  It’s been in my mind since I arrived here to start a strategic planning process.  In December we finally formed the committee.  For several months, there is a woman I was thinking about being on the committee.  I wasn’t even sure why I wanted to ask her to be part of this except knowing her faith is important to her.  When I finally asked her, she thought it was a great idea, she would love to be part of it, and then explained that in a job she had, a major part of it was strategic planning.  I didn’t know exactly why I was asking her to be part of this.  I listened to God and God provided the name without my realizing it.  God always provides what (or in this case – who) we need to do his will.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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