Our new pastor, Fr. Mark Lewis, and his wife Vicky, visited the parish for a few days this past week, and they had a wonderful time getting to know more about us. The appointment of Fr. Lewis as pastor will take effect on July 1st, and they will be arriving sometime just after August 1st. Fr. Lewis made it very clear that he is looking forward to carrying on the established vision and practice of the parish, and both Fr. Moore and Fr. Phillips will be working closely with him.The visitor questioned why Fr Lewis will arrive only after August 1 if his appointment commences July 1, but I suspect that it schedules a vacation to accompany moving. It's a little puzzling that, although Fr Phillips is clearly being eased out, he is also clearly not in disgrace. On the other hand, for Fr Perkins to be on site for the July 1 weekend speaks to a desire to keep things firmly under Houston's control.
Bishop Lopes has asked Fr. Phillips to visit various Ordinariate communities to encourage them, and to give guidance where it might be needed. Although Fr. Phillips (at the express wish of Fr. Lewis) will be spending most of his time here ministering at the parish, he also will be travelling on a fairly regular basis. The first of his trips will be this next weekend, when he will be at St. Luke’s, Washington, D.C., which is the parish where Fr. Lewis most recently served as pastor. Fr. Perkins will be here with Fr. Moore for our Sunday schedule of Masses.
That Fr Phillips is being sent to St Luke's is interesting, too. Fr Lewis previously noted that Bp Lopes has been encouraging that parish to move back into a separate building, and I suspect Bp Lopes hopes Fr Phillips has some formula that will allow a parish to do this, notwithstanding efforts to apply the specific Phillips formula in Irvine and Scranton have not been successful.
The more I reflect on the pictures that have run here of forlorn little communities, often in shabby and provisional surroundings, that make up the majority of the OCSP, the more I'm convinced that the view of circumstances from Houston must be dire. I would guess that sending Fr Phillips around is something of a desperate measure, but I'm not sure what he has to work with.