Monday, June 4, 2018

"We Go Where We're Sent."

In this week's bulletin, our pastor announced that we would be losing not one associate (which was announced the previous week), but two. They're outstanding priests who've taught me a lot in the confessional. On one hand, the pastor announced they'll be replaced, and since the diocesan vocations director is in residence at the rectory, it's a good bet they'll be good ones, too.

On the other hand, the pastor's tone was just a bit wistful about losing them both, but he recognized his job was to keep the parish up to speed, and he concluded, "We go where we're sent." It seems to me that this is a major factor that's missing from the OCSP: most clergy can't be redeployed. But also, it doesn't matter much: who would want to send most of these guys anywhere?

Notice too one point of the story my regular correspondent told yesterday about St John Vianney: the community failed to thrive under two priests, but when Fr Stainbrook was redeployed from St Timothy's, Ft Worth, things changed. Celibate priests are important -- so why is the OCSP continuing to ordain married mediocrities with poor track records in multiple Protestant denominations?

Even so, married Anglican priests do move around. But market forces are at work, and the successful ones will move on to parishes that can afford to support them and their families. The less successful ones find other careers. Some, presumably in desperation, even apply to go into the OCSP.

Six years on, very few OCSP communities have grown to the point where they can suppport the redeployment of a married priest. But redeployment seems to be one of the few hopes available to communities that aren't thriving.