Q. How do we welcome our new pastor?
A. This is a great question that most parishes deal with — with some regularity. Thank you for asking it. Parishioners at any given parish very much want to welcome their new priest/pastor and let him know that he is welcomed as their new shepherd.
I can say from my own personal experience that I have truly enjoyed every parish that I have been assigned to and that the people from the very beginning of my assignment made me feel welcome in their parish, their community and in their homes. I have truly cherished the opportunities that Catholics and non-Catholics alike have given me to be a part of their lives and families.
Many times a parish will hold a group event that could include a meal, a program, maybe music to welcome their new pastor. The act of welcoming is one that is on-going. It can take months and maybe even a couple of years in order for a priest to become fully acclimated in a parish and community.
I might suggest that families invite their parish priests to their homes for a meal in order to get to know them. One cannot underestimate the impact of a priest visiting your home, especially for children. Perhaps you can ask your pastor to bless your house while he is there. Please be patient with your pastor as he gets to know your name. He — like me — may have to ask your name several times before he remembers it. Some priests are better at remembering than others. In this regard parishioners have an advantage that they all know the new priest who is coming in and what his name is. He on the other hand has to learn everyone else’s name and the history of the parish and community and any current issues that are part of the life of that parish. So, be patient as your pastor learns “the lay of the land.”
Also, it might be helpful to reach out to a new pastor and help him move into the rectory and introduce him to different aspects of the parish. Be mindful too that priests are very different and that your new pastor will do things differently than your previous pastor. It doesn’t mean one way is necessarily better than another — just that priests do things differently. This takes into consideration the diversity and humanity of priests.
Thanks for asking the question. Going into a new assignment is a major life’s change for any priest.
Related item: Clergy Appointments for 2019
This question was answered by a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln. Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.