Deacon Roy Harrington, from Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Seattle, dropped me a line in response to this post and the comments it provoked. I reprint his e-mail here with his permission. Dcn. G.
Fr. Tim was ordained for the Archdiocese of Seattle after completing theology at the NAC in Rome. He was our parochial vicar at OLL back in the early 1980′s. He and Archbishop Sartain became good friends in Rome and they continue to be so today. After a few years of diocesan service, Fr. Tim became a Trappist in Oregon for 17 years–he’s one of the most mystically spiritual people I know–a real Thomas Merton for the 21st Century. But 9 years ago, he came back to serve in Seattle and has been our pastoral leader for 7 years. All that said, Fr. Tim is only concerned about drawing people back to the Church–making OLL a welcoming place for everyone.
25% of the families in our school are not Catholic but they know that they are welcome in our midst any time. We have kids in the school who have two moms or two dads–some Catholic, some not. We simply focus on serving these kids and families to the best of our ability. That’s why Fr. Tim decided that allowing the gathering of referendum signatures at the Church would be too divisive and disruptive. On Sunday he actually encouraged folks to sign the referendum request if that’s what their consciences led them to. He mentioned it briefly in his homily but then talked more about it during the announcements. The standing ovation was spontaneous and completely unexpected…..I looked at him and could tell he was immediately embarrassed and uncomfortable with the show of emotion.
He is not seeking approval or popularity–just following his conscience and instincts as a pastoral leader trying to bring people back, not wanting to push them away. At the same time, I admire both Fr. Tim & Archbishop Sartain as pastoral leaders. They are two of the most humble priests I’ve ever met. Thanks for reminding your readers what the AB actually told pastors. Fr.Tim was neither disobeying the AB or encouraging disagreement with him. We are trying to live out the Gospel by example while not judging others–I think that’s what Jesus would have us do.