Skip to comments.Cardinal Dolan sets term limits that oust pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea on Staten Island
Posted on 03/01/2014 9:04:32 AM PST by NYer
(sillive.com) More change is coming for Staten Island Catholic parishes.
The Archdiocese is reinstating the limit of two six-year terms for pastors — a policy that is a variation on term limits of years ago that were relaxed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s predecessors, Cardinals John O’Connor and Edward Egan.
Dolan is following the recommendation of the Priest Council that each pastor be assigned for a six-year term, renewable once, for a total of 12 years in a parish, said Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York.
The change has already sent shockwaves through Our Lady Star of the Sea R.C. Church in Huguenot, where beloved pastor Monsignor Jeffrey Conway will be replaced after more than two decades at the parish’s helm.
In a letter to parishioners, Monsignor Conway, who has headed the thriving South Shore parish since November 1993, said that he and other pastors who have served a dozen or more years are going to be reassigned as of July 1.
“While it would not have been my choice to leave this parish and I had hoped to retire from here, I am grateful that I was allowed to spend so many years building up this parish and serving all of you,” the monsignor said in a letter to parishioners posted on the parish web site. [More]
The Archdiocese is reinstating the limit of two six-year terms for pastors ...
My bishop also reinstated this practice in our diocese. By shifting priests around, they bring their God-given abilities from one parish and apply them in another. Fr. George Rutler, who was moved from Christ Our Saviour on Park Ave to St. Michael's on West 34th St in NYC, is a good example of how those gifts can benefit both large and small parishes. As an aside, here is an example of the benefit of having celibate priests.
I have to say, our upper-middle class parish is a lot more active with the poor than we would have been if our old pastor had not had a previous stint at a very poor parish. He brought his concern for those people with him and shared it with us. So, it was a good thing that he had moved around in his career.
What a horrible headline. It makes it sound like the priest is being removed from pastoral duties. Isn’t CathNews aware that archdioceses routinely reassign priests from one parish to another?
I agree about the ridiculous headline. Perhaps they are still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The longer a pastor remains with his parish, the more painful it is to see him go. Our parish went through this about 5 years ago; it did not go well with certain parishioners who walked away.
Is the term limit he is reinstating a dioscean regulation or is it higher, like regional or national that was simply waved by the local diocese ?
IE. Will there be shuffling beyond this diocese ?
I believe this is a diocesan regulation.
In general, this is a good policy. It keeps yo from getting a Fr. Pfleger problem.
Being familiar with Our Lady Star of the Sea,I asked the head of a public corporation what he would do with a successful pastor like Monsignor Conway.He would have the pastors needing help study how a successful pastor gets the job done.Cardinal Dolan’s plan is poor management.
It’s a good policy. Each priest brings unique gifts to a parish, and a good bishop matches the needs of the parish to the gifts of the priests. But often, after a period of some years, after the parish enjoys an abundance of a particular priest’s gifts, they begin to have deficits in other areas, where the particular priest may not be strong. They’ve developed different needs, and a new pastor will fill those better than the current one, and another parish may have greater need of the first parish’s pastor’s gifts.
And of course, there are the [many] talentless priests whose tenure should be limited at any particular parish, lest the parish be destroyed by the long-term occupancy of the failed priest. Sadly, we eventually call many of these priests “Excellency,” or even “Eminence.”
I have no intention of diminishing the great work of Msgr. Conway. He is indeed a blessing to his community. However, I do feel you are diminishing Cardinal Dolan's plan to move him to another parish. Let me explain. About 5 years ago, our bishop reappointed our pastor to another parish in upstate NY. We felt the timing could not have been worse. Over the span of 10 years, this priest had acquired an abandoned church to serve as our future home (the parish church had burned to the ground 50 years prior and we had adapted an outdoor shrine for weekly mass). We were a small community and the future church was in need of major repairs. With less than 100 families, fundraising was our primary source of revenue to restore the 160 y/o abandoned church. Finally, work was progressing. We could finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Then the bishop pulled the priest and replaced him with a Lebanese monk! He spoke English with a heavy accent and had NO EXPERIENCE running a parish, much less restoring an historic building according to state and federal norms.
A group of us traveled down to Brooklyn to visit the bishop and persuade him to retain our pastor for just one more year. He was sympathetic to our pleas but would not budge on his decision. Several parishioners were sufficiently outraged that they suggested we organize a parish protest. In the end, we acceded to the bishop, and reluctantly welcomed our new pastor, anticipating he would dash the project..
It took him a few months to grasp the gist of the seriousness of the situation but the wheels of progress continued to move. In December 2012, he announced that the future church met town code and we would be relocating on a specific date. In anticipation of the move, he organized one of the most beautiful masses I have ever attended. The procession of gifts included parishioners carrying the parish marriage, baptismal and burial registers. The parish sacramentals, vestments, and other religious articles were assembled on tables in the rear of the church. After mass, we were instructed to select an item, place it in our car and join a procession of cars from one city to the other. Leading the cavalcade was a large statue of our patroness, St. Ann, on a flatbed truck, surrounded by flowers. Immediately behind her was an open roofed car with our pastor extended through the sunroof, holding the monstrance. We processed through the City of Troy, across the Collar City Bridge and into the City of Watervliet. The priest remained at his post, monstrance elevated, as one by one, each family carried in their precious cargo.
The bishop authorized the priest to administer a special blessing to enable us to use the church until he could formally bless and dedicate it. In May 2013, after more than 10 years of arduous fundraising and hard work, the church was formally dedicated by the bishop. Coincidentally, only 3 blocks away, a most highly recognized RC Church, was being torn down under the authorization of their bishop.
My point in writing this lengthy post is to demonstrate how attachment to a particular priest can impede us from enjoying the blessings of another. Our new parish home has served as a beacon of hope to a shattered community. Our pastor has not only grown from the experience but infused this new community with deep spirituality and welcomed newcomers with open arms.
When the announcement to relocate our pastor was made, we could not imagine the fruits from that decision. It proved to be a blessing.