A young priest was named pastor of his first church. He was delighted with his appointment to a fairly large parish, but quite overwhelmed by the amount of work there was waiting for him—in four weeks he did eight funerals and five weddings.
There was simply no time to write Sunday homilies. So he gave the same one all month.
The parish council went to the Archbishop complaining that the new pastor had used the same homily four times in a row. The Archbishop asked what it was about. The council members looked at one another; they scratched their heads, hemmed and hawed—but they really couldn't remember. The Archbishop said, "Let him use it one more time."
After the week I've had, I feel a bit like that young priest, but I'm not going to give last Sunday's homily again. Actually, I'm not going to give a homily at all, because I have some news to share with you instead.
You might say I have "good news and bad news."
The "bad news" is that Archbishop Miller has given me a new job. The good news—for me, very good news—is that he's let me keep my old job! I have a major new responsibility, but with Father Xavier's generous help I will be able to fulfill it while remaining pastor at Christ the Redeemer.
To explain, I'll start by reading a letter that the Archbishop has asked to be read at all Masses throughout the Archdiocese today.
My new appointment is Director of the Permanent Diaconate Program. In other words, I will be helping to train the men who will be ordained as permanent deacons. In addition to whatever teaching I do, and the inevitable meetings, I will be working in the Chancery Office all day every Thursday.
We are blessed to have a very capable and dedicated assistant pastor, whose full-time help will more than compensate for the time I will need to spend away from the parish.
You all know the very old joke about the priest who said "I think there's something wrong with this mike" and heard the congregation reply "And also with you." I don't want to take any chances that my message is in any way unclear, so let me head the rumour mill off at the pass: I am not leaving the parish—except on Thursday mornings—and will continue to serve as pastor.
I'll just be asking for an extra measure of the generous understanding of my other commitments that you have already shown.
I hope that the whole parish community will welcome this news as I do—joking aside, it is very good news, because making a sacrifice to help introduce permanent deacons to the Archdiocese is no small privilege.
And perhaps someday one of those ordained to this ministry will be serving here at Christ the Redeemer.