The drive on Route 21 from Shortsville to Hornell the afternoon of Nov. 8 was a reminder that the splendor of autumn colors is rapidly yielding to winter’s gray. It was good to make the trip in a bright sunlight that brought out the best of the color that remained.
Sister Mary Ann Binsack, RSM, and I drove from St. Dominic’s Parish Center in Shortsville, the site of our Presbyteral Council meetings, to St. Ann’s Parish in Hornell, where we did a confirmation that evening. Prior to that celebration we blessed their handsome new church doors.
In the moments in the church between events I was mindful of the blessings I had already experienced that day. I thought first of the priests with whom I met and remembered the experience, humor, concerns, wisdom, thought and recommendations they brought to the table. I also remembered the care with which they listened to one another, and the good direction that emerged because they were willing to speak, to listen and to move forward.
The heart of our discussion had to do with the theme of transition in leadership that I have raised in "Along the Way" in the September and October issues of the Catholic Courier. In those two columns the emphasis was on how best we as a community, but especially the lay faithful, might prepare well to make this time one of grace and growth for all of us.
At my invitation we shifted our focus to reflect on how best we priests and other pastoral ministers could be good leaders during the time of transition. I tried to frame the question in a way parallel to the structure of the earlier columns, asking them to consider questions such as the following:
As we review our respective pastoral scenes do we think of issues, questions or situations that are not quite where they ought to be?
Do we observe with care the norms of the church and the guidelines of our diocese as they apply to our sacramental life?
Can the same be said of our financial practices? Do we collect, account for and use the resources entrusted to us with integrity and transparency? Are our trustees and finance committees appropriately informed and engaged in our financial affairs? Are we quick to correct deficiencies when audits find them?
The tone of the conversation was not one of fault-finding but of recognizing this time of transition as a privileged one in which to make a special effort to put our house in order.
During the drive to Hornell I thought of the analogy of my growing up experience at home. My mother always kept a very neat house. But when a guest was expected every space — including under the beds — received an extra careful check. She wanted the best for her guests.
Our new bishop will certainly not be our guest, he will be the head of our family. We all want him to be very much at home, and not burdened with issues and problems that we should have tended to before his arrival. He should be free to move the positive things forward, not burdened by concerns that should have already been handled.
I look forward to further conversation with the members of our Presbyteral Council about this important time in our diocese. In the meantime, I renew my request to all in our diocese to pray that this time of transition may be a time of grace and growth for all of us.
Peace to all.