Tuesday, November 20, 2007

priest with a past appointed as pastor

Imagine that your pastor who has diligently served your community for over 20 years is soon to retire. In his place a priest is appointed who is known to you and your community: having served at your parish as parochial vicar a couple of years ago, initiating new ministries there, and serving effectively and with dedication at other parishes in your diocese for several years.

Then just several weeks before the new priest is to assume the pastorship, a few folks begin distributing fliers after Masses on Sunday with startling information: that the newly appointed priest was arrested 8 years ago for lewd conduct.

More information about this emerge from the local newspaper: that the priest after the arrest went to counseling for several months, that the charges against him were dropped after counseling, that no one was actually involved in the incident–no minor and no adult--except for the arresting officer, and that there has been no incident since the arrest.

Well, this is what is presently going on at a parish in the SF East Bay, at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton.

The retiring pastor as well as the Bishop have both voiced their support for the newly appointed priest. "For seven years [the new appointee, Padraig Greene] has been a most effective minister, without negative incident," writes the pastor in the parish bulletin.

And the Bishop, Allen Vigneron, writes: "Repentant and desiring to put his life back in order, Father Greene spent several months dealing with this dark moment through extensive therapy and a program of spiritual renewal....The Diocese of Oakland, as an expression of our belief in the forgiveness and redemption God offers to all people, sponsored Father Greene in this program."

Meanwhile, the folks at SNAP [Survival Network of Those Abused by Priests] continue to hand out copies of police and court records after Masses on Sunday.

No doubt this is a difficult time for their community. But perhaps there is an opportunity for folks in the parish to air their concerns, and for the pastor and the new appointee to listen and to reassure.

If this had happened at your community how would you respond?

Powered by Blogger