Monday, April 12, 2010
Praise with Elation!
The Carnival cruise line Elation, that is. Hello, Everybody!
The Blog is Back. Some time in February, 2009, I made the decision to discontinue Friarside Chats. We Franciscans of the Province of St. Barbara had just held our biennial Chapter (i.e., congress) at the historic Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California (about 40 minutes north of San Diego). We elected our new provincial administration, and then proceeded to reshuffle the deck in terms of ministerial assignments.
As a result of that process, I was elected as one of six definitors (consultors) to our new leadership team, which includes our recently elected Provincial Minister (Numero Uno), Father John Hardin, ofm, and our vicar-Provincial (Numero Dos) Father Ken Laverone, ofm. In July of last year, I left my job as vocations coordinator to become reincarinated (or rather, re-incardinated) as pastor of the parish at-- Mission San Luis Rey—the same venue as our Chapter meeting.
I was not alone in terms of reassignment. Of the more than 100 friars in active ministry in our province, nearly half of us were moved in the wake of our Chapter. It’s not that we weren’t doing our jobs. Rather, as an integral part of our vocation as ‘itinerants’ (pilgrims and strangers on this earth) we are asked to be open and available to the call of the Spirit and of our superiors at all times—the terms is “disponible” in the lingo of religious orders. When I first entered religious life 16 years ago, I thought that moving around like this on a regular basis would be easy and fun. Now, I find it more difficult—it’s really hard to leave the friendships and contacts one develops in a particular place. Every move brings its sadness and joy.
In this process of institutional musical chairs, everyone was to be in place by the time the record stopped on September 1. And it worked! With the exception of a few stragglers, everyone was in place, at least physically, in his new assignment by Labor Day. The psychological adjustment is ongoing and takes much longer, of course.
For my part, I shifted from a very focused, one-on-one and small-group oriented ministry to responsibilities as head of a leadership team for more than 5,000 families in a large, multi-cultural environment. We have a staff of 20, including 2 full-time friars, 12 lay ministers, and a five-man maintenance crew. The parish campus—about 12 acres in all—includes a ‘worship space’—the Junipero Serra Center (capacity 1200), and our parish Montessori school with 200 students. In addition, the parish hosts a wide variety of programs, ranging from our religious education program (800 students, K-12), to the Knights of Columbus, to ‘grupos de oracion/ intercesion’ and even that enduring mainstay of Catholic parish life: bingo! It’s compelling, often overwhelming, but I’m not complaining. Seven months into a rather steep learning curve, I am really enjoying this new ministry. The people—warm, welcoming, and faith-filled-- make it all worthwhile, believe me. And the local Franciscan fraternity—eight of us all together, along with four lay Covenant volunteer members—makes for stimulating community life, to say the very least.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have come to realize even though I’m now working as a pastor, I’m still very interested in vocations work and will probably continue to help promote vocations one way or another for a long time to come. I am deeply convinced that the Franciscan movement, lay and religious, is still ‘alive and kicking’, and that there is a vital role for us in today’s Church and society. But we ain’t goin’ no place unless or until we can get the word out effectively
We have an excellent new vocations coordinator, Father Alberto Villafan, ofm, who works out of San Jose, California. I have known Fr. Alberto for more than 16 years—we are classmates and entered the Franciscans together as postulants in 1993. He is a good, hardworking, and dedicated man. I will be writing more about him in future blog entries. At any rate, Fr. Alberto has moved the Vocations Office to San Jose, California, and can be reached directly at 408/903-3422. Email: email@example.com
For my part, of course, I’ve decided to restart this blog and see what happens. This particular stroke of genius (or was it sunstroke) hit me while on a post-Easter boat ride from San Diego to Baja California, Mexico. The ship, by the way, is the Carnival Line’s Elation. (!) I like that. (The trip was a 60th birthday present).
But now I will be writing from the perspective of my own ‘vocation within a vocation’-- my work and experience as a pastor and member of a large Franciscan community. It’s just one of a wide variety of working/living situations our Province supports and maintains. I hope something from my experience may help you in your own spiritual growth and discernment.
Feel free to contact me at any time and I will be happy to respond and/or forward inquiries to Fr. Alberto as it appears appropriate. Peace and all good!—Fr. Chuck Talley, ofm.
Posted by Fr. Charles Talley, ofm at 8:17 PM