The horrific killings/murders at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX this past week filled TV cable news channels and local channels with the chilling horror of evil/criminal activity once again. Politicians and commentators are quick to offer explanations and solutions that are emotionally appealing, but they many not accurately inform the public of solutions to these horrible events in our nation. Our senses may become dulled into just accepting what is happening without making any effort to redirect our efforts at addressing the issues. Back in the late 60’s watching the body counts of US Service men and women and others in the Vietnam War on nightly TV was just another report and dulled my senses to the horror of war, death and wounded casualties. The tallies kept mounting and politicians kept talking, and our fellow countrymen and women continued to die and be maimed for life. It was easier to avert our eyes and emotions rather than confront and find solutions. Lack of respect for human life, the dignity and sacredness of persons and the rupture of social relationships have caused much distress in individuals and society.
I think back to the violence during the Civil Rights struggles and race relations, violence at political conventions in the 60’s, violence and riots in our cities, violence during the Vietnam War protests, violence during the busing issues, violence to the unborn, violence with addiction issues, violence with domestic abuse, violence in clergy abuse and so many other expressions of societal weakening all contribute to our lack of civility in my opinion. It just can’t be one thing that is the root cause, but it seems to me that combination of many facets all contribute to what has taken place. There is no excuse for these senseless mass killings, and we need to confront all the underlying contributing factors. May God grant us the courage, strength and wisdom to discern and do what is right for all.
This past week our Regional Bishop, Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, our local Vicar, Clergy Personnel Director and Director of Pastoral Planning met with our Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils, Pastoral Staff and School Board members to have a conversation regarding the appointment of a new administrator for Saint Mary Parish. A Parish Profile was prepared by the staff and me earlier to give them some basic facts about the parish. The conversation was an opportunity to share other information and insights into the life of this parish, so that a full picture of our strengths and any areas of parish ministry that may be of concern before the appointment of a new administrator. Change is always difficult in parish life. Each pastor/ administrator brings gifts and talents similar and different from the other priests who have served in the parish. We all like comfort in the way things are, rather than risk getting out of the boat and trusting Jesus and His love for us. I believe the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the Church and this parish as we move forward