May 1, 2012

I was wrong

I said yesterday,
There are too few American men entering the priesthood, so many have to come from other countries around the world. Otherwise, one might expect to find an older, guitar-mass-and-felt-banner Vatican II Catholic priest or a young, right-wing, traditionalist American priest. That seems to encompass the range.
I was reminded this morning that there are important exceptions, and that one of them serves at the parish where I grew up.

I met Father Jon Pedigo in 1984 when he came to our parish as a seminarian.  I was only a few years younger, and we found we had some intellectual and spiritual connection.  A dozen years later, he officiated at my wedding.

Over a decade ago he became the pastor of that same parish where we first met.  In the intervening years, the tech boom had caused radical changes in the demographic composition of the old neighborhood.  So had shifts in the culture -- both that of the secular society and of the church.  Jon was ready to lead in this changing world, because he is deeply grounded in the thing that never changes, that is, the gospel of the Christ.
Fr. Jon is an activist.  He is a community leader in matters relating to immigration and equality.  In his most recent homily he speaks profoundly -- and prophetically -- about our call as the body of Christ to include rather than to exclude
It is to walk on a razor's edge these days to "name out loud our diversity" in a Catholic parish.  But it is to proclaim the savior, Jesus, who scandalously offered open table fellowship to exactly those people the law, God's law, said must be shunned.
In Falling Upward author Father Richard Rohr (another notable exception, although not a parish priest), says, profoundly:
Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us. (italics original)
What I see in communities like the one at St. Julie's is people dedicated to this vision of what it means to be the body of Christ, to embody the coming of the kingdom of God.  How do we participate in this mission, the mission of receiving forgiveness and relationship and reaching out in forgiveness and relationship?  That is how God's kingdom comes.  That is how we proclaim the gospel.

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