Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Fifth "P"

…is “Procedure.”

In our parish we have a new pope, a new pastor, a new parochial vicar, and a new principal of the parish school. In April, our bishop decreed that all parishes need to follow the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Now, if my parish was a Jewish synagogue and we had to pick our tradition—Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform—we would probably be Conservative: not pining for the “old” days, but not pushing the envelope, either. The changes we had to make were not major ones, but since our pastor was leaving (to become the pastor for the parish of the new Cathedral), he asked if he could let the new pastor make the changes. The bishop was firm: all parishes had to be in compliance by June 1.

A training session for Eucharistic Ministers was called. The new procedure was demonstrated, but on Sunday distribution of Communion was less than smooth. Our new pastor and parochial vicar arrived at the beginning of July and now it wasn’t just the Eucharistic Ministers who weren’t quite sure of what to do—the priests weren’t sure as well.

So another training session was scheduled.

During last night’s training, I got a glimpse of the personality of our new pastor. Our previous pastor was originally a refugee from Vietnam, who nearly died during his escape. He came to the U.S. with only his faith, his vocation, and a wonderful sense of humor. (It took us awhile to discover that—we had to translate his English first! J) He had to learn a new language in order to fulfill his vocation and had to learn the many different customs celebrated by his parishioners. The fact that he was successful during the ten years he was with us, first as a parochial vicar, then as pastor, is a testament to his intelligence and will.

Our new pastor, on the other hand, has a much different background. He was born in the States. His last assignment was with the Diocesan newspaper. (In fact, he was in Rome for the funeral of JPII and the conclave.) He has a wonderfully dry sense of humor which hasn’t surfaced yet in his homilies. He also has a much better understanding of the thinking of the bishops when they wrote the GIRM as well as the underlying theology. He would read a passage, explain the reasons for it, and then answer our questions. He also shared some of the horror stories he had heard from priests in other parishes: how some Eucharistic Ministers did not understand the significance of the consecrated Hosts and would mix them in with the unconsecrated ones or would simply pour the consecrated Wine down the sacrarium sink.

I appreciate hearing the background. Now that I understand the “why,” there is a better chance I will remember the “what” when I am called to be a Eucharistic Minister on Sunday and we can bring the solemnity and dignity to the distribution of Communion that it deserves.