Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, July 8

We have been going through some transitions on the parish staff here at St. Austin. Just two weeks ago we said our good-byes to Fr. Steven Bell. While I was not here, I hear that it was quite a lively and vibrant “good-bye,” appropriate for Fr. Steve.

Last week we had the opportunity to welcome the newest Paulist on the parish staff: Fr. René Constanza, CSP. We are most happy to have Fr. René with us, and I personally look forward to working with him. He brings with him many gifts and a quiet strength, and we are blest he is here.

Well, life is about change, and the transitions and changes continue. It is my great pleasure to announce officially that ANOTHER PAULIST PRIEST is being assigned to St. Austin Parish. Fr. Robert (Bob) Cary, CSP, will be joining our team at the beginning of next month. That will make three full-time priests – and a permanent deacon – on the parish staff, a great luxury in this day and time.

How did this come about? Fr Bob Cary was pastor of St. Augustine’s (the other one, from Hippo, not our Augustine of Canterbury) in Memphis, Tennessee. For several reasons the Paulists have just given back care of that parish to the Diocese of Memphis. This left Fr. Cary without an assignment. Around the middle of June the Paulist President, Fr. Michael McGarry, called me to ask if I was interested in having Fr Cary on the staff here. Of course I said “yes,” thinking it would take a couple of months to work it out. A week later, as I was arriving at St. Louis, Missouri for my Dad’s 91st birthday party, Fr. McGarry called back to tell me Fr. Cary was assigned to St. Austin. This is something of a coup – certainly a surprise – and we are extremely fortunate to have Fr. Cary join us.

Fr. Bob is a few years older than me, but ordained seven years after me. He was a practicing attorney prior to entering the Paulists. We lived together when I was pastor in New York City, and he worked part-time on the parish staff while also serving as Paulist counsel and treasurer. So we have worked together. He also was assigned for a time at University Catholic Center in Austin. He will give us a fuller biography when he arrives. He is a good guy.

I hope that the addition of Fr. Bob to the parish staff will allow us to do at least three things:  1) a more reasonable coverage of the many sacramental duties here. This is an active place.  While Fr. Bob Scott was here and active we relied heavily on his assistance. Since he has been gone Fr. Steve and I were kept hopping. Fr. Bob will certainly lighten that load.  2) The third priest will allow us to have a presence in the school, a hope that Fr. Steve and I just could not make happen.  3) Some ministerial outreach and presence beyond the parish.  Other than attending a monthly luncheon for area pastors and representing the pastors on the Board of Micah 6, I have not had the opportunity to reach out or represent the church beyond our parish concerns. Hopefully that will change and some Paulist ministry beyond our parish bounds can now take place. I am sure that more opportunities will arise now that we have more manpower.

This assignment, however, does not come without challenges: finding another stipend for him, an office (we are short on space), another computer, health insurance coverage, a car for him to get around, telephone, etc., etc. As you can quickly see, having another priest brings with it extra costs. Given the very tight constraints on our parish budget, this will be a real challenge. However, I am hopeful, and beyond that confident, that this parish community will with creativity and generosity overcome the challenge.

Meanwhile, Welcome Fr. Bob Cary!

God bless,

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