David, this is the Archbishop’s Secretary…
Today’s Reflection from Father Dave
It was a brisk winter’s day and I was driving home from the mountains when the call came, “David, this is the Archbishop’s secretary, and he would like to talk to you.” What does one say at such a moment? After all in the ordination rite one promises respect and obedience to his bishop. So I responded, “No, it is never good news when the Archbishop calls you. Tell him I am driving.” There was laughter, and I was put on hold. The next voice was Archbishop Levada, “David, pull over!” His conversation continued, “David, we have fulfilled all your requirements, and so I am now assigning you as pastor of St. Charles Church; you won’t have to move far.”
Some of you might be wondering what stipulations I made. I know, for I was wondering the same thing. So when I asked if he could refresh my memory on those he read from my annual clergy update form: “You wanted a garage for your tools, a gymnasium, and a school.” Truthfully, I did not know anyone actually read those annual forms.
This week marks the 15th anniversary of being made pastor, and so I thought to do a little walk down memory lane. It might keep me from reflecting too much on the happenings around me. In almost 39 years of priesthood I have had four (4) assignments. Our Lady of Loretto for 3½ years, St. Vincent/CYO for 14 years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel for 5 years, and now St. Charles for 15 years. There have been other responsibilities that have been added, such as Serra High School and now St. Matthias, but I pretty much stay in one place for some time.
I have noticed one stark change over these 15 years. When I first arrived at St. Charles there were between 1100-1200 people coming to Sunday mass. Last weekend the church was empty. Not many pastors can say during their time they chased all the parishioners away. I now can say this for 2 churches, as in the 9 months that St. Matthias has been part of my responsibility, I have emptied it too. So it is good to be known for something.
There is a prayer by Michael Quoist, The Priest, a Prayer on Sunday Night. It is a dark and somber prayer, but one that hits the nail on the head about priesthood. It is the latter part of the prayer that sticks with me. It is our Heavenly Father speaking to his priest:
Son, you are not alone, I am with you; I am you.
For I need another human instrument to continue my Incarnation and my Redemption.
Out of all eternity, I chose you, I need you.
I need your hands to continue to bless,
I need your lips to continue to speak,
I need your body to continue to suffer,
I need your heart to continue to love,
I need you to continue to save.
Stay with me, son.
Let my answer always be: Here I am, Lord.