This week’s “From the Pastor” is written by the Parochial Vicar a/k/a Fr. Tim
Fr. Tim, 61, is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. He entered the Jesuits in 1989 and was ordained a priest in 1999. His previous assignments have included: Parochial Vicar at St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; Director of Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, Maryland; teacher of economics and ethics and director of retreats at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC; and Treasurer (CFO) of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.
What a difference a month makes. My transition to Decatur has been a bit of a whirlwind: new faces and new places while trying to keep up with some of the friends I made over the last 19 years during my time in Baltimore and Washington. It’s not uncommon for Jesuits to get moved around, but this is the biggest move I’ve made in the last thirty years. However, in some ways it has been a homecoming. I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where my family still lives; and believe it or not, I lived in Atlanta, about 2.5 miles from St. Thomas More, 35 years ago. Needless to say, the area has grown immensely since then; it seems like there are even more five-way intersections. Of course, 35 years ago, I hadn’t even met a Jesuit. And there weren’t too many Jesuits in Atlanta. It seems amazing to me that the Jesuits now have a thriving Cristo Rey High School here as well as the privilege of serving at St. Thomas More in addition to continuing the good work begun many years ago at Ignatius Retreat House. And I get to be a part of it! God does work in mysterious ways.
The most common question I’ve heard over the last month is “will you be staying long?” Although I recognize that I can be an acquired taste and that nothing is certain in Jesuit life, I hope I will be permitted to stay a good long while. During my last eight years in Baltimore, I lived in a community of Jesuits who were in their 80’s and 90’s. Invariably, the ones who were happiest, had spent a significant amount of time in a parish. I’ve yet to meet a Jesuit who entered religious life, hoping he would one day become Province Treasurer; I certainly didn’t! So I am hoping that the powers that be have come to the conclusion that I am due a long and happy stint at St. Thomas More.
In the coming months (and years, I hope), I look forward to getting to know you and to hearing about your hopes for the parish. My belief is that priests should be at the service of the people, not the other way around. I think the first priority of a parish should be to help its members to become better Christians. In the process, I have no doubt that you will help me to be a better priest. It is exciting to join a parish that already has so many programs in which the parishioners are aiding one another. So far, I’ve been inspired by the worship and liturgy, the RCIA program, the Eucharistic Ministers who visit the homebound and those in hospitals, the Martha’s Ministry team that prepares wonderful receptions for family and friends who come to STM for funerals, and, of course, our Blue Ribbon school. From young to old, the people who come to STM seem to be genuinely happy. And for that I am most grateful.
I’m also looking forward to just having fun with you. I hope you will be patient with me as I try to learn everyone’s name. In my younger days, I was pretty good at quickly learning the names of my students; but it helped that everyone had an assigned seat in the classroom, and I had a few more brain cells than I do now. At an active parish like STM where no one seems to stay put, the names may come more slowly; but I’m looking forward to getting to know you. Thanks for welcoming me to STM!