Of course, there were many The Charism the midst of the congregation, as a fellow human being. He obstacles in the path of realizing that grand vision of of the Parish was to be one whose core spiritual gift, or charism charism, was to Vatican II. It wasn't possible empower the laity as members of to turn the established culture Priest of the church around “on a Christ’s Body, helping them to high altar, but practically, in
practically build up their own spirituality and mission. The An Ordinand’s View stereotype of priests as simply dispensers of sacraments was by Rishi Sativihari now to be proven untrue by a new breed of pastors, who would Context is important. I am sure serve the laity as their competent it is true, for example, that what teachers of prayer, spiritual life, I find so great about our Diocese and ministry. of Huron has been greatly influenced by the different Word, Sacrament, and real contexts that have shaped my life pastorally caring relationships and faith over the years. were to be the vehicles of this empowerment. And every I was raised in the Roman parish was to become a vibrant Catholic Church of the late and intentional spiritual 1960s. It was a time of radical community, where ordinary changes in the church, and all people could train in the art of of us – lay and ordained – were Gospel living and see their trying to figure out what the everyday lives transformed into major reforms of Vatican II were real expressions of Christ’s really all about. presence in the world! There were even visions of friendly, My mother was convinced (at cooperative relationships least initially) that it was a huge between the church and other mistake for the liturgy to be said world religions, and a renewed in English instead of Latin. Some commitment to bring Good News clergy also seemed to dislike the to the most vulnerable persons changes, especially the major on the planet. shifts being called for in the roles of the priest and the laity, and To say the least, it was a grand the greater emphasis on Ministry vision of what it means to be of the Word, which seemed “way church. In the wake of all this too Protestant” for some. renewal and reform, I was Personally, I was all for change. convinced that I had found And so were the younger priests my vocation. If this is what it who were my teachers in High really meant to be a priest, then I School. wanted in. I felt that my inner experience of relationship with In this new system of Vatican II, God was finally being outwardly the parish priest was to be a confirmed by the institutional genuine shepherd – not only church in a way that made sense symbolically, standing at the to me.
dime.” For one thing, parish priests had not been adequately prepared in their seminary years to become the kinds of vibrant spiritual mentors that these reforms were calling them to be. They were very well trained in theology and in the technical areas of presiding at the liturgy. But that special charism charism of empowering the laity to grow spiritually and missionally seemed to be lacking. They still had way too much to learn in their own lives about prayer, spirituality, and becoming a real expression of Christ in the world, for them to be able to effectively teach and form others. Many were adapting, though, with the help of good mentors and patient congregations. But, even then, they were facing huge institutional obstacles. For example, how could these male priests possibly “empower” women parishioners to cultivate their own spiritual lives and ministries within an institution that was officially excluding them from receiving the sacrament of ordination? In some places, girls were not even allowed to be servers in the liturgy. The old church culture was deeply entrenched in Canon Laws, rigid attitudes and ways of operating that were, to say the least, not easily changed. Disillusioned with how wide the gap was between the grand
vision of reform and the reality of parish life on the ground, I decided that I needed to let go of my desire to be a priest if I wanted to keep my own integrity and sanity. I tried several Protestant denominations on for size, but eventually found that I felt much closer to God outside of the institutional church than inside of it. I still felt that I was called and gifted to be the kind of ordained minister of Christ that these reforms were envisioning, but I became reconciled to the fact that I was going to have to live out that call in a secular vocation, outside of the institutional church. And so I studied to become a clinical psychologist.
how would that be possible? The Roman Catholic church was now even less of an option for me. In many ways, the hierarchy seemed to be reverting back to preVatican II culture. And also, I was now happily married.
lay and ordained leaders; new strategies for subordinating our material resources to our spiritual goals; and new ways of being accountable to God and to one another.
☩ We are committed to taking
the wisdom of our Christian tradition very seriously. We Over the next four years, I refuse to either “throw the attended Toronto School of baby out with the bathwater” Theology, and studied in all of or to simply follow whatever their local seminaries: Anglican fashionable trend comes along. Evangelical; AnglicanLiberal; Presbyterian; United Church; RC ☩ We are understanding the Jesuit; RC Basilian; and RC big picture of our mission to Diocesan. It was an amazing build up the Body of Christ. education and training We are learning together how experience that, in the end, to engage in the ministries of helped me find my new initiation and formation, not for spiritual home. Eventually it ourselves alone, but to empower Fast forward 20 years . . . I had became clear that the place for us all for evangelization, so that worked as a psychologist me was the Anglican church, and Christ can truly be made present in a variety of different settings specifically here, within the in our world through our lives. in Canada and the United States, Diocese of Huron. and for the most part I had ☩ And last, but certainly not enjoyed it, although the work Here is a short list of reasons Here is a short list of reasons least, I was warmly received, was at times very difficult and why the Diocese of Huron has why the Diocese of Huron has made to feel at home, and given stressful. Over the years, my become home for me: become home for me: good opportunities to grow and sense of God’s call in my life had to serve. evolved and been strengthened ☩ We believe that God is in a variety of interesting calling us all – lay & ordained; Context is so important, I contexts, including living as a male & female; young & old; think, because that is always Buddhist monk for several years to become a community of where we meet one another. I am in Asia. I was now in my early persons who embody that core grateful for the many contexts fourties, and like many people spiritual gift of “building up and people that have shaped my often do in midlife, I began the Body of Christ,” and who life and faith over the years. asking questions about how I faithfully keep at it, until we Without them, I might not have wanted to spend the rest of my all grow to maturity as persons been able to see the miracle that life. whose lives reflect Jesus’ own is happening here in the Diocese life. of Huron, right before our very As soon as I allowed myself eyes. to ask the question about a ☩ We are not stopping possible shift in my vocation, with simply envisioning a the answer was already there. new church culture. We are There was still nothing that also building it together, I wanted more than to serve with new Canon Laws; new This article is available online at: God as a parish priest. But processes for the formation of www.diohuron.org/news/hcn/hcn.php