I’m wearing vestments that were made for my predecessor Fr. Seamus who was a much, much bigger man than me by a long shot, so there’s no way I can fill them as he did. There is no way that I can fill the space occupied by him when he was Parish Priest. But all the same the vestments fit me in a different kind of way. Something of Seamus remains here but things are not the same. His death brought an unexpected change and I have become part of that change. When I was his novice master I never dreamed that he would die before me, never thought that I would succeed him.
On the front and back of my chausible is the Pallottine seal with the motto “Caritas Christi Urget Nos” (The Love of Christ Urges us on). This seal is testament to our communal calling, the mission given to each of us personally and together as community.
The emotion of his passing is still strong! He is very much missed and was greatly loved here in Hastings. He touched people’s lives for the better. People tell me all the time, though I don’t think they expect me to do things as he did and I’m not putting myself under pressure to be like him. At 62 you realize that you can’t be what you’re not. I know my limitations, my unworthiness. I know that at some levels of my life I am not fit for this. But I also know the gifts that God has given me. Shankill has shown them to me, taught me how to use them.
Deacon Duncan knows I don’t care for the glory of the big occasion and in the lead-up to my induction as Parish Priest I was fairly apprehensive. I would have preferred if it could have been done in the privacy of the Bishop’s office. But Bishop Richard likes to do it in public with the parish present and Duncan is delighted because he too knows that it’s needed.
They are right of course. Becoming Parish Priest is not a private matter between the Bishop and myself. I belong to the People; we belong to each other in this ministry.