Second Day Notes from Clergy Conference 2023
You may be interested in the Day 2 of Fr Shaun’s notes –sketches of the day–from the 2023 Clergy conference. These notes raise questions as to the quality of our life together as a parish and how we interface with the Eparchy of Newton (or don’t) and how we relate to the local Latin Diocese. Emphasis by the editor of this page.
Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ:
Christ is with us!
I hope you and your loved ones are well.
If you’ll be so kind, some notes on the second full day of the Eparchy of Newton’s clergy conference:
We started the day meeting in groups of clergy from the various regions across the eparchy. It was great sitting down, face to face, with the priests and deacons from the west coast and Arizona. Bishop François is eager for the clergy to support one another, as best we can, in our ministries to God’s people – and we discussed various ways in which we could move forward on this front. We are going to continue this discussion tomorrow.
Most of the rest of the day was spent on administrative and operational items for our parishes, outreaches, and missions. While it may not be interesting, vis-à-vis the spiritual/religious dimensions of our lives, it was reassuring to know that Bishop François is committed to doing business in a proper and organized manner:
In the afternoon we had an informative presentation from Catholic Mutual Insurance, which handles the property insurance needs of our diocese. Not much pertained, directly, to St. Jacob’s now, but it will in the future when we have our own real property. I did have an opportunity to discuss, one-on-one, our situation with a representative from the company and he assured me that we’re in good stead.
That was followed by a presentation on a new diocesan and parish legal and asset review by Fr Thomas Davis, himself an experienced attorney. He made it abundantly clear that, as far as churches/parishes go, there’s a right way of doing business and a wrong way – and His Grace, Bishop François, is committed to getting each parish in the eparchy on track and doing things the right way. The main thing this means for St. Jacob’s is that your administrator (i.e., me) will have lots of paperwork to do in the upcoming months (which I consider both a service to St. Jacob’s and penance for me)! It also means that the eparchy will have a better picture of the assets and liabilities of each community – very important for the legal and organizational dimensions of our communities and eparchy.
Next came a presentation by Deacon Bob Shalhoub (a CPA and our Economos) on diocesan financials, financial guidelines, Bishop’s Appeal, clergy insurance and benefits, etc. Again, it is clear that Bishop François is eager to get the eparchy’s financial house in order. I expect some unfinished business from this session to be discussed again later in the conference.
The highlights of the day were our prayer and worship – and Bishop François is adamant that prayer and worship are the real first orders of business for our eparchy and our parishes.
We celebrated Orthros and Divine Liturgy at San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral. We were joined in our worship by the local Ordinary, His Excellency, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S. and some of his clergy from the cathedral – as concelebrants at the liturgy! Archbishop Gustavo – sporting an engolpion, no less – gave the homily and it was very edifying to see him, knowing his way around our Liturgy and singing the Kontakion of the Presentation of Our Lord! Such a blessed event. (On a personal note, it was such a blessing to remember in prayer my baby brother named after Saints Anthony and Francis, reposed in the Lord so long ago, in the Mother church of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. May his memory be eternal.)
The most moving part of the day was our Trisagion service when we called to mind all the clergy and monastic men and women of the Eparchy of Newton who have reposed in the Lord. It was so touching to hear Fr. Philip Razcka name each of the deceased – many of whom I’ve known, many of whom I’ve heard, and a few I encountered for the first time. It was a privilege to pray, anew, for those holy souls who have run the course of the faith; it was stirring to know that after I fall asleep in the Lord, please God, I’ll be remembered in prayer at least once a year – and heaven knows I’ll need it!
It was a long and busy day and it will be followed by another, tomorrow.
Apologies for the length of this missive. However, I think transparency is a good thing and I wanted you to have some insights as to what your clergy are doing when so few of our faithful are present.
In closing, I offer a special thanks to the faithful of St. Jacob’s – a small community with a big heart; you all make it possible for me to attend this event and to ensure our community is an important part of the Eparchy of Newton. We’ll keep praying for you, you keep praying for us!