This Sunday concludes my first month as your new pastor. As I have told some of you, a pastor’s first year is spent “observing” and “learning.” Each week gets a bit easier, as I become more comfortable with my new parish, and you become more comfortable with your new pastor. Here are just a few observations and a couple of things I’ve learned so far.
First, Sunday is a very busy and long day around here. From our first Mass at the Villages at 8:15am, until the lights are turned off and the doors locked about 12 hours later at the end of the 6pm Mass—it is non-stop action. Now, I think this is great. I am amazed at how everything goes so smoothly—traffic patterns, choir-set up, preparation for the next Mass, and lots of smiles and hugs. The Good Lord must truly rejoice that so many of his children travel up and down the mountain to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist with us.
Second, the people of St. Francis of Assisi are good stewards of God’s time, talent, and treasure. No one sits back and waits for someone else to volunteer. They jump in and get to work. In most parishes, 20% of the people carry the load for the other 80%; however, here, it’s certainly a reversal of fortune. There is a tangible excitement and energy in each volunteer. People, also, understand that for the parish to meet all its financial obligations, we must share our “treasure” in the Sunday offertory in a way that is intentional, sacrificial, and planned. I have eleven more months to “observe” and “learn” what goes on for the remainder of the year.
Third, I have always believed that a pastor can only be successful and effective, if he surrounds himself with good people who are passionate, competent, and caring co-workers. The parish staff has been extremely helpful and supportive, as I sometimes wander in the darkness of not knowing so much about how our parish runs. I appreciate their dedication to their ministry.
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of a multibillion-dollar corporation, always talks about: People, Process, and Product as the three keys to any successful endeavor. Without passionate people, working in an organized and harmonious process, we will always fall short of who we are called to be. We are the Church: the universal Sacrament of Salvation. Let us, first and foremost, be a Church whose first task is introducing people to the person of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Matt, Pastor