It's Good To Be The Pastor, Part II
One of the things that has been keeping me busy over the last few weeks is trying to address some of the needs I have identified in the parish, and making preparations for the Solemnity of Christ the King and the season of Advent.
I've been re-training my altar servers. In so many parishes, the servers are really not properly trained, and consequently just sort of shuffle and bumble their way through the liturgy (not the case here, BTW). I resolved a long time ago that in any parish I pastored, I would personally devote time and attention to training my servers. Not only so that they will make the bella figura in the liturgy, but so they can really take pride in what they are doing, and see the true importance of their ministry. A good friend of mine remarked that the priest needs to see himself not just as teaching the servers what to do, but as forming them in God's service. So I've been trying to do just that. I think that here, as in any other ministry to young people, we need to challenge them with a high standard, with something they have to invest themselves in, and help them rise to the challenge.
I've also been re-training the Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. In this case, for the most part they didn't need to be taught what to do. But there were a few aspects in which those ministries had not been carried out in complete harmony with either the GIRM or the "Instruction on the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest". So my goal is to bring our practice into conformity with the Universal Church.
In addition to those things, I have been spending a lot of time planning for the big solemnity, Advent, and Christmas. I've been thinking about music, decorations, etc. I'm starting to introduce some chant in the liturgy, so I've begun working with the choir on that. In my previous assignment as associate in a big parish, the director of liturgy and pastor took care of such things, and I didn't really have to worry about them. Here, we have me. It's a lot of work, but this is really the fun part of the job for me. I want our Christmas liturgies in particular to be as solemn and beautiful as they can be.
I'm also going to be shopping for new vestments and altar hangings for my two churches in the near future. We're really in need of these things - most of what we have is of '70's and '80's vintage, and are overdue to be replaced. That's fun stuff for a priest as well!
Next Sunday night I'm going to be visiting with our 8th and 9th grade CCD kids, and fielding their questions. I'm deliberately making it a sort of free-for-all. So say a prayer that I can answer their questions well, and help invite them to get to know Jesus and the Church He founded a little better!