It's Good To Be The Pastor, Part I
So, I've been here at St. Stanislaus for almost 4 months, and I'm starting to get a sense of the parish and it's people. The people here, as I've written before, have been wonderful. They've been very welcoming and generous. I've been invited by a number of parishioners to dinner at their homes, and frequently parishioners will drop by with a jar of home-made jam, or some farm-fresh eggs, a cake or some other goodies. So I'm in no danger of going hungry...
My secretary/business manager is Hannah. She and her husband are long-time parishioners, and they've both become invaluable to me. Hannah deals with all of the accounting and paying the bills, etc, which is just as well because that's the kind of stuff that just puts me to sleep. Of course, I oversee things and keep tabs on the finances - it's my responsibility as pastor - but I'm glad to have her to deal with the nuts & bolts of it. Hannah's husband Russell is a big help to me, helping me set up for Mass several times a week, and generally doing countless favors for me.
The nice thing about a parish this size is that most everybody knows everyone else, at least by name, and frequently much more closely. One blessing and/or burden is that, because we're a small rural community, it seems like everyone is, in one way or another, related to everyone else. When I came here several parishioners warned me to be careful if I ever say anything about a parishioner, because there was a good chance someone within earshot was related to him! It will probably take me years to sort out who all is related to whom and how.
I'm blessed by my parish because the parishioners are so active and involved in parish life. Last weekend we had our annual Harvest Festival, which is the parish's Big Event in the fall. People come from all around to eat, buy things at the craft fair, and enjoy a Sunday afternoon in the country. The food was fantastic - there was turkey and beef and mashed potatoes (real - nothing out of a box), and stuffing, 5 or 6 different salads, all kinds of vegetables, and a plethora of desserts. Of course, I had to sample many different desserts, in order to develop a full sense of the diversity of the offerings.
This involvement also translates to a deep sense of "ownership" of the parish. My people care deeply about their parish, and will give quite generously, not only of their money, but of their time and talents, to help out. They want the parish to grow and prosper, and they want to be a part of what goes on. They also have a keen interest in making sure that things are well maintained and taken-care-of. They know that this is their parish, and it represents and reflects their faith.
Which is as it should be.