My Name Is . . .
Several years ago I was at a family gathering where a young great nephew was telling us about his first days in school. He was excited about all his new friends so I asked him what his friends’ names were. He named two friends and then, still excited but a tad bewildered, he said “I don’t remember all their names! There are a lot of them.”
These days I feel like my young nephew. My name is Fr. Bob Cary, and as the new associate pastor at St. Austin Catholic Parish there are many new names for me to learn. (Remember you only need to learn one name, I have hundreds to learn.) Names can be a basic learning task but the far more significant experience is hearing the story that an individual name represents. In fact, in my experience, a name often doesn’t really stick until I associate the name with other information about the person. That is a mantra you will often hear from me: stories matter. So here are some basics of my story.
I was born and raised in Detroit the middle child of five―four sons then a daughter. My parents are deceased but my brothers and sister and their families live around the country but mostly in Michigan. We had a wonderful family reunion this past June. After education by the Jesuits in high school and college, and a stint at teaching and graduating from law school, I became an assistant city attorney in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I primarily handled real estate matters for the city and found professional satisfaction being involved in the development, regulation and redevelopment of an urban community. But my growing sense that community was deeper than mere physical structures lead to a call to switch from “the law to the prophets.” I entered seminary with the Paulist Fathers, obtained an M-Div from Catholic University and was ordained May 19, 1984. (Fr. René and I share an ordination anniversary date.)
Since then I have served in parish ministry, campus ministry and adult education in Minneapolis, UCLA, Chicago, Ohio State, Grand Rapids, Memphis and a few other assignments including a few years in the mid-90s at the University Catholic Center here at UT. I also served as General Treasurer of the Paulist Community and along the way obtained an MA in Bioethics and Healthcare Policy from the medical school at Loyola University of Chicago. I have served as a pastor or director a few times but now am quite content to be an associate again (Most of my friends from college are now retiring). One of my hopes is to use my degree in bioethics and focus on issues and pastoral care in healthcare. We will see how this evolves.
I can hear our bulletin editor saying “Stop!” so I will for now. I look forward to serving at and with St. Austin Parish, meeting you and sharing stories.
Click here to contact Fr. Cary via email.