Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Parishioners, What Do You Think?

Although there is the occasional reader of my blog from someplace other than my own zip code, for the most part, I suspect that my blog is read primarily by my own parishioners.  So, this post is specifically geared towards them.  What is written below will appear in next Sunday's bulletin, but in the hopes of getting feedback sooner, I post it here as well. 

Dear Friends in Christ,
Because of the rather short period allotted to me to provide feedback to the Archdiocese concerning whether St. Mary’s and St. Margaret’s wish to be part of Phase One of the Pastoral Plan, I asked you last week to provide feedback to me.  I did not provide to you a lot of information and perhaps left you with more questions than answers.  Elsewhere in today's bulletin there is a brief outline of the Pastoral Plan of the Archdiocese. 
Understandably, a lot of you have been asking me questions about whether I would remain as your pastor.  I don’t know the answer to that question.  If we participate in Phase One, my guess is that it will be unlikely that I will remain as your pastor.  If we don’t participate in Phase One, I still might not remain as your pastor.  This is completely out of my hands.  
Back in May, I made a decision that I was not going to focus my attention on what my future would be.  I focused upon providing to all of you those things that make a parish strong.  A strong RCIA program that has welcomed converts into the Church for years, a youth ministry program that is growing and touching the hearts of young people, and a college and young adult ministry that provides a place of contact for college students who attend Mass here each Sunday at 10:30, have been part of a concerted effort to draw and keep others close to Christ. 
Last weekend after the Masses at St. Mary’s, the Youth Ministry Program sold Advent Wreath candles.  They only bought 75 sets of them and they sold out.  75 sets of Advent Candles are for me a small sign of the wonderful Catholic life we are living together.  Knowing that at least 75 families in our parish have an Advent Wreath in their home tells me that something good is happening among us. 
Sometimes I hear priests say, “A pastor grows stagnant after a few years in the same parish.”  I can tell you that I never feel that way.  I always feel like we are on the move.  Our friendship is deepening; our evangelization efforts are expanding, our Liturgical life richer, our devotion stronger, our Faith more educated, and our community more diverse.  We have beautiful music, probably more vocations than any parish in the Archdiocese, a strong religious education program and school, a good amount of confessions, Eucharistic Adoration, Bible Studies, Adult Education, and fairly solid finances. Some of you feel as though all of that will be at risk when we enter into the new Pastoral Plan.  Those feelings are understandable.  Sometimes, I’m nervous about that too.  Basically, every day that I wake up here, I feel like we are growing stronger and are beating the odds.  In a decade that saw massive distrust concerning the Church, we’ve not just “hung on,” we’ve become stronger and MORE Catholic. 
So, where does that leave us?  Well, I don’t know.  But, I think whatever opinions you offer to me have to be based upon the supposition that I may well not be your pastor a year from now.  Whether the Beverly parishes are in Phase One or not, it seems that many priests will be moved from one parish to another.  So, I think we have to make a presumption.  We have to presume that when the time comes to name a pastor here, the Cardinal will send someone who will appreciate, preserve, and build upon all that we already have.  And, all of you have to be committed to making that happen.
When I was first assigned to Beverly, I wondered, “Where is Beverly?”  I wound up here because I was sent.  And you know, the whole thing worked out pretty well.  So, I think we have to make an act of faith, and trust that those responsible for making assignments will do so in a way that will have your interests at heart. 
I do not know yet whether we should participate in Phase One or not.  There are good arguments both ways.  But, I think the opinions you offer to me ought to be based upon what you think will work best for your parish, the Catholic Schools in Beverly, and for Beverly as a whole.  I think that your opinion has to remove me from the equation because that is a factor we have no control over, whether we are in Phase One or not.  The question before us is not whether we will participate in the plan or not.  And it is not whether I should stay as pastor or not.  The question is whether we should be part of Phase One or not.  Our goal ought to be to make certain that we act and live in such a way that makes the Pastoral Plan in Beverly a great success.  In a few years, I want it to be reported to the Cardinal that Beverly continues to be a great success story for the Archdiocese of Boston and that it implemented his plan in the best way possible.
The best ways for you to express your opinions are to go to our Facebook Page—“St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Margaret’s in Beverly” or to email us at stmarystar@parishmail.com
Let us be calm and confident in Christ’s love for us.
Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. David Barnes


  1. But now for the important question: Where will Finbar be reassigned? Just joking.

  2. This is no joking matter! My secretary is threatening to sue for custody.

  3. Is Finbar your dog?