Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Me?

Why me?" A question many ask. A priest writing in the pastoral diary column of the Peace Weekly reflects on the same question when he received a new assignment recently. After studying abroad and returning home to teach in the seminary for seven years, he was surprised to learn he had been assigned to a parish that requires a new building.
The parish is called the 'flour parish?' for it was built in 1954 with the donations from the American military. (After the Korean War the United States sent much aid to Korea and a great deal of that was wheat flour) 

Since there is now a danger of it collapsing, he was assigned as pastor and has the job to rebuild. Because it was his first parish he had difficulty in understanding why someone with no experience as a pastor should be given the job. Looking back he has no trouble now with the assignment but at first there was a conflict between obedience and wanting to refuse. His plans now had to be put aside.  

While teaching in the seminary, he was going to a university on his own time and expense. Many had difficulty in understanding why a priest would want to study secular knowledge?  When he entered the course of studies for a doctorate in humanities, although there are treasures in the Catholic tradition, he had decided he wanted to speak to people in language they would readily understand; he felt that the language of the Church was not reaching many. They either were not interested or didn't care to listen.

 To deal with this situation he feels the Church has to learn a more secular language, the language of psychology, sociology, philosophy, and many others. He wants to speak about the treasures that were given to him by Jesus by expressing them in the 'language of the world,' and began by studying the language of religious psychology, having already studied contemporary spirituality in Canada. How was one to speak about spirituality to the world in the language of postmodernism? This was to be his dissertation.He finished the course for the doctorate,and passed the exam for his dissertation, the first proposal of his thesis being accepted. When he was assigned to the new parish, all this had to be given up. He was not able to do both.

So what was all this trouble worth? The formation for the priesthood is not only done by study and counseling, he says, but also by the example of other priests. This indirect influence should not be downplayed. He has shown the seminarians that study is something you do all your life, and he is happy to have given that message. He has given up his personal plans and will now devote all his attention to building the new church.

God in his designs, without any consultation, changes plans, and one is content to seek meaning in the new.

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