Monday, January 15, 2007

building a church, and paying off a sacred debt (from the ny times)

A lovely story. I wish Anglicanism in North America had more pastors like this guy. Not, obviously, in all the particulars. But I wish we had pastors who shared his faith (in the broad sense), his hope, and his love.

Today, the word “pastor” hardly describes this dynamo who propels a flock of 60 — most of them Dominican immigrants of modest means — round the clock and through the week. Teacher, chief cheerleader and social director, he is even the chauffeur who ferries them to services all over town in a secondhand airport van, usually after eight hours at a factory job making luxury handbags.

To the adults, he is the confidant who counsels them through crises. To the teenagers, he is the surrogate father who praises them and takes them on outings. To the needy, he is the benefactor who slips them a little cash. To all, he is the leader who promises a glorious future in a grand new church, even though they have saved a small fraction of the fortune it would cost.

“Pelea, pelea, pelea,” he murmured one night as he made his rounds in the church van, mouthing the words to a hymn. Fight, fight, fight.

Read it all here.


father thorpus said...

Well, I found the whole story a little depressing. Is success in ministry some Faustian deal that demands multiple corresponding dysfunctions at home? So he gained one child's life and lost the others? Sit around with a bunch of priests in your diocese sometime and listen to them discuss their families, and this dynamo has nothing on them. It's stories like this that make me respect the ideal of clerical celibacy. If this pastor's ethic is what it takes to succeed, and if family and church work are incompatible, I'm not sure I want to succeed at church work. Can we admire this pastor's faith, hope, and love? Probably. I won't do more than wonder. Sorry, WB, gotta part with you on this one.

father wb said...

Fr T-

No, I agree with you about the family dynamic. Frankly, concomittant to my desire that N American Anglicanism had priests like this guy is my desire that we have celibate priests too (not all, but some). Frankly, I think in addition to being a catholic practice, it would be very USEFUL now to have young priests unattached to family commitments.

And I agree that the "deal" he made was misunderstood by him. I.e. I don't think God makes those kinds of deals with people.

Mainly what I found so compelling was his zeal and dedication, the way he seemed to regard his flock really as his family. I also really admired his faith in the second coming, that his thought after a moving service was "I hope the Lord returns tonight." What a thing to think after a service! But he's certainly not my understanding of an ideal pastor in EVERY respect.