Beginning Thursday this week and through next weekend we will be playing host to two Paulist priests, Frs. Michael McGarry and Brett Hoover. Fr. McGarry is the President of the Paulist Fathers (hence, along with the Bishop, my boss) and Fr. Hoover is a theologian and teacher at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and a member of the Paulist General Council. I was stationed with Fr Brett in New York, when he was just a deacon and a new priest: I was his first pastor. They will be here in their official capacities as Visitors.
The Paulist Constitutions call for an “Official Visit” at least once during the president’s term of office. The last Visitation occurred almost exactly two years ago. Many of you will recall that during that Visitation the tragic death of Fr. Jim Wiesner occurred (this Friday, Nov. 18 will be the 2nd anniversary of Fr. Jim’s death). That unforeseen and tragic event really overshadowed the entire Visitation and, to say the least, threw everyone off kilter. Probably because that Visitation was so compromised by the tragedy is why the Paulists are conducting another Visitation only two years later. Usually they fall about four years apart.
Frs. McGarry and Hoover will be meeting with the Paulists in Austin, both individually and at least twice as a group. Important matters to the future and functioning of the Paulist Community in general (mission direction, finances, vocations, the state of our aging population of priests, etc) as well as local concerns and issues will be discussed.
The Visitors will meet with the parish staff, the Parish Pastoral Council, representatives from the School Advisory Board and the parish Finance Council, and other interested parishioners. In addition to meeting with the various elements of St. Austin Parish, they will be doing the same for the University Catholic Center, St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Horseshoe Bay, meeting with the Vicar General of the Diocese, Paulist Associates, former Paulists in Austin, and so on. I am not sure how they will fit it all in during the time they have!
The results of these periodic Visitations are important in helping the Paulist General Council in making determinations about where we want to stay and leave as our numbers grow smaller.
One of the Visitors will be at most of the Masses at St. Austin, at the University Catholic Center (UCC), and at St. Paul the Apostle in Horseshoe Bay. You will have a chance to meet and greet them after the Masses. Fr. Brett Hoover will also be hawking his new book: "COMFORT: An Atlas for the Body and Soul." He will be giving a talk on his book and signing books after the 9 a.m. Mass at UCC. You can read an excerpt at http://tinyurl.com/7xys68e. Paulists are not shy about blowing their own horn.
I ask for your prayers that the Visitation will go smoothly and productively, and may God deliver us from any tragic surprises like two years ago. Please make the Visitors feel welcome. Thank you!