Come Rock the Collar
Published on July 16-17, 2016 in the Parish Bulletin of Jesus Our Savior Catholic Church, Morehead KY
My first parish assignment as a newly ordained priest was Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Lexington, the parish where I stayed at when I first arrived here in the United States. I found that assignment to be an extraordinary blessing. I had no trouble trying to get to know the parishioners by name; I already knew them and, in fact, many of them crowded my first Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church. I had worked with the parish staff before as a seminarian; their only adjustment was calling me by my new title. I already knew how to get around the parish, where to find files and supplies, and whom to call for help. I hit the ground running as soon as I reported for duty and the parish welcomed me, their long lost son, as their newest Father. Nevertheless, I would sometimes tease some of the parishioners, especially the Knights of Columbus there, that, if they had known that I was going to be their priest, they would have treated me a whole lot better when I was a seminarian.
I had been warned that a new parish assignment often involved a stressful transition for both the priest and the parishioners. But, I found out that it was not so at Mary, Queen, because I already knew the parish and the parish also knew me.
I think that this is one of the more compelling reasons why we assign our seminarians as parish interns for the summer and why we promote the upcoming Rock the Collar tour around the diocese: we let our seminarians experience firsthand the inner workings of the parish office and the daily routine of a priest, but we also allow them to meet and fall in love with the people of God whom they will serve one day. Hopefully, that experience will inspire them later on to request the Bishop to return to the parish and minister there.
This summer, our parish has had the pleasure of having Danny Taylor as our seminarian intern. On Thursday, August 4, eleven of his brother-seminarians will come and visit Jesus Our Savior Catholic Church as part of their Rock the Collar tour. I have asked Sr. M. Judine Lambert, SND to give them a tour of the Saint Claire Regional Medical Center, but I also hope to take them around Morehead and Rowan County. I will celebrate Mass for them at the Church at 6:00 PM and our Knights of Columbus will host a cookout afterwards to welcome them to Jesus Our Savior.
I know that many of us already have summer vacations planned before the start of school, but I encourage those who will be in town that week to come to this Rock the Collar Mass and cookout. This is not only our opportunity to meet our future priests and, perhaps, even our future pastor; it is also their opportunity to meet us in our own backyard. I hope that their stop here, albeit brief, will be so meaningful and memorable that one—or more of them—will, even now, look forward to coming back to serve our parish.
I want us to make a good first impression on these young men, as we already have with Danny Taylor and now Fr. Terrence De Silva. I believe that we can welcome them warmly to Morehead and treat them well even while they are still seminarians so that they will remember to treat us even better when, God willing, they will be assigned to our parish as our priests.