Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Two Reasons I Love my White Collar Job

Fr. Paul Jarvis left a few things behind, and among them was a coffee mug that still sits

on my desk holding a supply of pens. The mug features a Roman collar worn by a

priest, and is the source for the title of this column.

As we transition into summer, I’ve had the chance recently to reflect on two big reasons

why I truly love my vocation of being a priest.

One is the people. Now truth be told, especially when one becomes a pastor,

challenges can arise. It only makes sense. When you are working with a staff, a lot of

people in a parish, and have a lot of things going on, inevitably there will be some

bumps along the way as you have all of these opinions converging, and someone has

to be responsible for making decisions. Perhaps one day I’ll include that side of ministry

in a book, but the column space here is limited.

What I would like to note though are the people who help you through the bumps, and

who make ministry such a blessing. And that is the people who are part of a parish

family. There are some parishes out there that aren’t healthy – where a few people “run

the show” or the priest shuts down new ideas, or that are bastions of gossip and

negativity, or the staff have “turf wars.”. Saint Joe’s is not one of them. And what I mean

by this is of course we aren’t perfect, but as I’ve been here now two years, I’m

continually amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit here. SO many good things happen.

The Spirit is the outpouring of the love between the Father and Son, and I feel that here

serving as the parish priest. I see it in the staff, in the volunteers, and in all the good

things that happen here. I really love coming into the office and being with the staff, who

work so hard behind the scenes day in and day out, and getting to know the great

people here who care so much.

Last week, it was so moving to get so many words of thanks as I marked the completion

of my first decade as a priest. But it was a reminder of how every day I am lucky to

come in to our parish and see first hand the power of the Holy Spirit in action. Being the

parish priest here, it really does fill one with a sense of joy, seeing how people truly love

their parish, and build one another up rather than tear one another down. And sadly,

that can happen in parishes out there.

So I’d first like to thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me in my

ministry as a priest and for all that you do to support me, and this great parish. I hope

you don’t mind but my plan is to stick around for a while.

The other reason I love my job? The school. Our year wraps up this week, and we have

a group of awesome eighth graders who prepare now to move on to high school. I love

our school. I love going to the school Mass, I love going into classrooms (where Kirby

continues to be far more popular than me but I’m fine with that) and seeing the love our

teachers have for helping our kids to grow in knowledge that will help them through life,

and prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven. Kelly Roche, our principal, has been

doing an amazing job as she finishes her first year, and we are so blessed to have her

and our great teachers. Next year, we open up our preschool, and we are excited to

begin this new chapter for our school.

And so, again, to all who have shown me such kindness, to all who do so much for our

parish family, and to all who care so deeply for Saint Joseph’s parish, thank you. May

we never forget that Christ is not gone in heaven just waiting for us, but alive and

guiding us through His love and the power of the Spirit. As we celebrate the sending of

the Holy Spirit this Pentecost Sunday, let’s not forget the Spirit didn’t just come on the

first Pentecost Sunday, but is still there to guide us, and strengthen us. Saint Joe’s has

so many good things going on, but the work is far from complete. Together, may we

move forward to continue that work, saying “we are Saint Joe’s” and working daily to

bring people closer to heaven through the love we bring into this world.

Have a blessed Pentecost Sunday!

Fr. Paul