2006-10-08 With the beginning of Autumn the calendar perks up

October 8, 2006

With the beginning of Autumn the calendar perks up and activities resume with vigor and, sometimes in social New York, with a vengeance.

There is much new going on in the universal Church and even in our parish. Among local changes is the assignment of Monsignor Douglas Mathers as Administrator of the Church of St. John the Evangelist. He will assume his new responsibility with typical grace and, while we shall miss one who has been resident in our parish for twelve years and has helped in many ways while doing other assignments in the archdiocese, we are glad that he will not be far away. As he has been part of our family, those bonds are not attenuated by distance, and so we look forward to what we hope will be many visits here as one of us and not as a stranger.

An increasing number of young men are hearing Christ’s call to serve him as priests, from Denver where the seminaries are bulging, and Nebraska where a new seminary is being built, to London where vocations are the highest in six years, and beyond to various continents where the chief work of bishops is to make sure that the volumes of candidates are motivated by the right reasons. Our own archdiocese at the moment has a poor record, similar to some European countries, and we pray that the situation will improve. Our parish’s annual seminary collection this year was the largest in our history, which is a material expression of prayerful support for vocations. This parish is experiencing an unprecedented wave of young men discerning God’s call. But because it takes at least seven years of preparation for ordination, the current dearth of priestly help remains.

Five years ago, when our parish was much smaller than it is now, there were five priests in the rectory, and a couple of visiting priests on call to help. As of this week, I shall be the only priest in the parish. I am immensely grateful to the priests who come in to help with confessions, and to Bishop McCormack who assists on Sunday along with his other responsibilities. But our regular schedule was planned to permit each priest to have a Mass. Under present circumstance that is unnecessary. Canon law limits the number of Masses a priest may offer, except in exceptional circumstances. We already stretch that rule. To this is added the ever-increasing number of weddings and baptisms (our baptisms in just the past nine months have already far exceeded the annual total five years ago).

I shall be reviewing the schedule for daily and Sun­day Masses and confessions. I do not want to turn away the lines of people coming to confession, but I do think that some prudential reorganizing will accommodate all.

Fr. George W. Rutler

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