A few months before my 70th birthday, I decided to retire from active ministry. It wasn’t an easy decision especially since we are experiencing such a shortage of priests in our diocese. I consulted some of my friends and they encouraged me to make the step.
I chose the date of June 29th as my retirement date. This was my father’s birthday, my maternal grandmother’s birthday and the 44th anniversary of my reporting for my first assignment. It seemed appropriate that I retire on this day.
I decided to retire in Knoxville since that was my hometown. My mother and all my nieces and nephews except for one live in Knoxville and I really wanted to reconnect with my family. My family welcomed me with a party featuring a mariachi band. Not bad for an Italian!
One of the things that I’m learning to do is child care. I have some grand nephews who occasionally need to be looked after. I get the job if their parents can’t find someone else. So far I have escaped changing diapers!
It is really difficult to leave active ministry. My last assignment was in a rather large and active parish. To wake up in the morning with nothing on my calendar is quite a shock. After some weeks I got use to it and found myself involved in my home parish. It was nice not to have the responsibilities of being a pastor. Now when people ask if I’m enjoying my retirement I tell them, “I’m glad I lived long enough to do it.”
My years in ministry were interesting. I was fortunate to live at an exciting time in our Church, especially after the Second Vatican Council. As I look back, I think many of us expected that the Church could change anything she chose to change. We talked about the ordination of women, birth control, taking the “hocus pocus” out of the Mass, demythologizing the Scriptures and a variety of other topics. As years passed we found that not all of our expectations were possible. We were in a Church that remains connected to the past even though some disciplinary changes took place.
As I do this blog I’m hoping to write about some of these issues and invite you to offer your two cents worth to the conversation. I see this blog as a conversation starter. If we are going to understand and solve some of the issues in our Church, we need to share our ideas and not be afraid of being condemned by those who hold other views. You may not agree with me and I may not agree with you, but we need to express where we are on faith issues. Such understanding makes for healthy dialogue.
Topics I’m thinking about writing in the future are male spirituality issues, the new evangelization, stewardship and prayer. I invite you to send to me topics you would like to see appear. I don’t guarantee that I will be able to comment on all of them, but I’ll do the ones that I am informed about.