“My last night as an associate pastor…”

A priest in Indianapolis reflects on how his life is about to change as, for the first time, he becomes a pastor:

For the rest of my life until retirement, barring getting sent away for further schooling or something like that, I’ll be a pastor of a parish.  It is kind of intimidating sitting here on the verge of it all waiting for it to get started.

In the seminary, when I thought of life after ordination, it was just this big continuous thing that I thought of as “priesthood” but I’ve since realized that there is a gigantic difference between being an associate pastor and a pastor.  I have been telling people it seems a lot like a couple preparing for marriage who only thinks about marriage, and doesn’t think about the gigantic shift that takes place when a child is born that you are suddenly responsible for.  Tonight, packing up, I feel like the dad driving home from the hospital with a new kid in the back seat – I probably should have seen this coming, but nothing could have prepared me for it anyway.  I think it is also a good analogy because a parent is not “in charge” of their child nor is a parent meant to “rule” in the domineering or lording sense of the word – a parent is asked to care, for a short time, the life of the child, to protect it, teach it, feed it, and be a good steward of the child God has put into the life of parents – in the same way a pastor should come to “serve, not to be served” as Jesus instructs in the Gospel – I don’t take over a kingdom tomorrow, God asks me to care for several parishes tomorrow for a short time, like the vineyard worker asked to care for a vineyard until the master returns.

It is at times like this where I entrust myself to God’s Providence, that belief that somehow God is steering my life and preparing me for things even though I am often unaware of His action and his preparation at the time.  I guess you just dive in to being a pastor and believe that God will make good come out of it and will guide and direct it.  It is still an intimidating dive.

Read the rest of Fr. John Hollowell’s reflection at his blog, “On This Rock.” Good luck and traveling mercies, padre!