Sunday, April 03, 2016

An Important Announcement

Fr. Michael Najim

Instead of sharing the Good News (capital G, capital N) with you in my homily today, I have some good news (small g, small n) to share: as of July 1st we will be getting some full-time, priestly help here at St Pius X. 

This is something that I’ve desired for a long time—and I know many of you have as well.  Bishop Tobin and Bishop Evans also agree that this should take place.

And you’ll be very happy to know who will be coming here to be with us: Fr Mike Najim, who was once a student at St. Pius X School, as well as an altar boy here and a member of my youth group when I came to St. Pius 28 years ago.  Presently he’s the spiritual director at the diocesan seminary in Providence and the Catholic chaplain at LaSalle Academy.

The other bit of news is that he’s not coming here as the assistant; he’s coming here to be the pastor—and that pleases me greatly, because Fr Najim has the same spiritual outlook that I have, and he works very well with young people (which are two big priorities for me, pastorally speaking—qualities I always hoped and prayed would be present in my successor).

But I will be staying here in residence to continue doing what I have been doing in my priestly ministry.  You can’t get rid of me that easily!  Of course, the good news for me is that with this arrangement I won’t have to worry about administrative issues anymore (like paying the bills and dealing with contractors and insurance companies, etc.).  I’ll leave those things now to the young guy.

As Bishop Tobin and I see it, this decision is a “win” for everybody.  It’s a win for the people of the parish because they get the services of 2 priests; it’s a win for Fr Najim because he gets his first pastorate in a town that he loves; and it’s a win for me because I get to stay “home”.  Yes, I was born and raised in Barrington and in Holy Angels parish, but after 28 blest years my heart is here in Westerly and in this parish.  This is home.

And now I get to channel all of my energies into my priestly work, and don’t have to use part of my energy for administration—which will definitely have a positive effect on my battle with Parkinson’s Disease, since the symptoms of Parkinson’s always get worse with stress.

And administrative work, without question, causes stress.  Just ask any pastor!

One footnote to all this: when you see these assignments posted in the RI Catholic within the next few weeks, it will say that my status is “retired”.  Please understand, this does not mean I’m slowing down!  I’ve got plenty of mileage left in me.  This is being done for a very practical reason.  St. Pius X parish cannot afford to pay the salaries of two full-time priests at the present time.  But if I’m designated as “retired”, the diocese will be responsible for paying my salary, medical benefits, etc.  So they’ll pay the tab, and you—and any other place I help out in—will reap the benefits.

In closing let me say that my prayer at this Mass is that the words of today’s first reading will be prophetic for our parish community, especially where it says, “more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them.”

Bishop Tobin has called St. Pius “a spiritual powerhouse” in the Diocese of Providence.  May these upcoming changes make our parish even stronger spiritually, and help us to be a place where many more men and women are drawn to Jesus Christ and added to our number.