Thursday, April 28, 2011

Noodle Night

Tonight I go to claim my bounty at Noodles & Co. To go with the "Mac and Cheese bar" they are providing (that's what I won),  I spent all day in the kitchen preparing hors d'œuvres (had to look that one up) and dessert (pecan pies, three of 'em). Sr Helena took care of setting the tables and preparing the gathering space (thank Heaven!); Sr Barbara did the cleaning (a lot, God bless her!).
Meanwhile, I am processing a video (I hope for the last time) to send to the motherhouse. It still has some weirdnesses (for example, it is enormously wide, but if I try to adjust that, my images get squished). I hope Sr. Domenica (who studied filmmaking and has a really up to date Mac) will be able to fix it. (Idea! Send her a DVD of all my files!) I also have the May retreat for the Cathedral of St. Paul percolating on my brain's back burner. It had better come to a boil soon: the retreat is next Saturday!
Here in Chicago, the front page news was about a local priest (no, not that kind of news). Fr. Michael Pfleger (social activist in a severely troubled part of Chicago) got suspended after going on a nationally syndicated radio talk show and saying that, rather than accept a different assignment, he would leave the Catholic Church in order to keep doing what he feels called to do. [And that the National RIFLE Association has been pressuring the Cardinal to transfer him. (?!)] I'm sure it was really a lot of blather, but it's not the first time he's insinuated that he would leave the Church and take his flock with him. This time the Cardinal called him on it.
Cardinal George's letter, which was made public (since "Father Michael" tends to provide the media his own reports), pointed out that a priest makes two core commitments that express his gift of self: one is the vow of celibacy; the other is his promise of obedience to his bishop.  Together, these commitments claim the whole person as a "man of the Church." It is the bishop, of course, who is really the "pastor" of the local Church, so the promise of obedience puts the priest at the service of the people in a way that is integrated with the needs of the whole diocese. Incidentally, regular transfers of priests helps them to keep that wider ecclesial vision and not get completely wrapped up in kingdom building in a single, well-loved parish. (Father Pfleger has been allowed to stay in "his" parish for almost his entire priesthood.)
It's a delicate situation, even though Fr. Pfleger doesn't exactly seem like the delicate type. Pray for him (and other priests in crisis) in a particular way during this Easter Octave.


Christine Falk Dalessio said...

Thanks! That was so well clarified. I feel badly for priests who are moved around a lot, but I think it's not always helpful to leave a priest in one place for decades and suddenly ask him to move. I mean, obedience is a choice, yes...and a vow... But good pastoral care is priceless, right?
Anyway, i am with you on those prayers!

Anonymous said...

Hmm...Fr. Michael's parishioners must be very confused. I hope they don't get angry at the Bishop or Cardinal. I pray they understand..I don't really think the NRA could "pressure" a Cardinal to do such a thing. I agree, a bunch of blather...sigh..

Lisa said...

I am saddened that the situation has come to this, but I am concerned that the focus remains on the Cardinal and Fr. Pfleger because there is an entire congregation of parishioners whose spiritual needs and economic and social realities have played a large part in the "why" of why Father has been allowed to remain there for an unusually long period of time. That said, I understand the rationale for periodically transferring people and that the risk of following a person rather than Christ/the Church must be avoided, but I think there is error in judgment on both sides. I don't think it needed to come to this point, but unfortunately it has. Now let's hope that healing can begin without further harm...

Ruth Ann said...

It has always been difficult for me, as a parishioner, to see a well-loved pastor or priest transferred when his cycle of years expired. But, each new priest/pastor has gifts that enrich me and the parish. So, I've learned to trust God's providence.

The situation you describe in this blog is so unfortunate, but I would hope that Fr. Pfleger honor his vows and trust God's providence for the parish and its future.

Fran said...

What a thoughtful post and comments on a challenging situation. Cardinal George and Father Pfleger are in need of our prayers however, the community of believers at St. Sabina is as well. One of my on-going concerns about this story is that it always ends up being about Fr. Pfleger and Cardinal George.

As a result it turns into this either/or rather than the both/and of Catholic community.

Having been in numerous online conversations about this - most of which have people, however well-intended, turning Father Pfleger into a victim and the community of St. Sabina into those who will lose, this brings new perspective. I will be sharing this. Thank you and peace. I am glad to have found your blog!