Everyday I’m Shuffling

We're about to undergo a shuffle here in the Hamilton Diocese. Not the "everyday I'm shuffling" kind of shuffle – a priest shuffle. Father Yvan, who is over in Gisborne, has been called to minister to the people of the Marquesas Islands so that has necessitated a kind of shuffle around to fill his spot, and then to fill the spot of the priest going to Gisborne, then a priest to fill that spot… you get the picture.

We will be losing our Parish Priest in this neck of the woods. As our Assistant Priest put it last week, when the Bishop calls, you have to go, but the priest always has the last word… as long as that word is "Sir, yes sir". I think he was joking.

I understand that all Diocesan priests take a vow of obediance to the Bishop and it is just part of the job that they will be shifted around from parish to parish. It's good for the parishes and it's good for the priests. But, gosh, it's hard. We are very lucky here to have a Parish Priest that is popular and very well-loved. When things are working well, our priests are the people we come to rely on for guidance, counselling, prayer, confession, support and sometimes even friendship. It's hard when they move on.

I've been through this once before when I lived in Auckland. We had an AMAZING Priest at my parish – dynamic, interesting, intelligent, compassionate and I was gutted when he was moved across town. I even thought about following him to his new parish (easy enough to do when you live in Auckland). But it was actually a wake-up call to think about why I go to Mass. Do I go to listen to the priest's awesome sermon, or do I go to celebrate the Mass and to encounter Jesus? I guess that's the same thing I will need to think about now.

This kind of situation must be hard for our priests too. They get somewhat settled in an area, they become part of people's families and certainly part of the community, but they can be asked to move at any time. If I was living priestly life I think I would be too scared to get too involved in a community and in people's lives, in case I was asked to move and it was too hard. I wonder how our priests feel about moving. Is it just part of the job or is it a hardship for them too?



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    Comments: 10

    1. Dominican July 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      So M & M – welcome your new priest.   His strengths and weaknesses will be different from your former parish priest.  Prayerfully support and encourage him – "stick up for him" Your new priest is  a very holy man  – he brings you Jesus.

    2. Teresina July 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      M&M unfortunately these days it is not a case of which priest is the more intelligent or has the better sermon, but a case of which priests say the black and do the red – in other words follow the rubrics.  I know that in most cases these things do not change the validity of the Mass but to me they do signify the mind of a priest: is he obedient not just to his bishop but to the magisterium?  If he's not than I will do my best not to attend his Mass – even if it means a journey across town or beyond.  I am not going to sit through a Mass where the priest is constantly chatting to the congregation and putting himself – his personality – on to the Mass.  I am not going to go to a Mass where the priest is encouraging people to clap during the Mass, where every birthday and anniversary is celebrated at Mass and God seems to be forgotten.  Nor am I going to go to a liturgy which is what is going to happen when most weekday Masses are stopped.

      While I am physically able I will attend a Mass that is said reverently and follows the rubrics and that's what I suggest everyone do.  Then just maybe those priests who want to be showmen will get the message.

    3. Rubyshine July 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      Hi M&M, I think you must be getting our parish priest. He's only been with us a relatively short time, but I'm sad to see him go.

      I'm sure priests are just like the rest of us, some thrive on change, others will feel apprehensive at the thought. Some will worry if their own personal strengths and weaknesses will work in the new community. Others will be confident that the change will work out fine. Some will welcome a move to be nearer family or friends, and others will be sad at a greater distance. They'll be parish members they will miss a lot, and others they will miss less.

      I guess though, it's something they accept as part of their role.

      As a teacher, every year I feel sad to say goodbye to our senior students, some of whom I will have taught and watched grow up from awkward 13 yr olds to adults going out into the world. There are always students that I think, "but I don't want them to leave," but leave they must, and there is always a new year of students with its own mix of challenges and joys.

      I don't think I fail to engage with my students because I know they will move on, but there is naturally a professional distance from my students. Perhaps priests are the same?

      I think our replacement priest is a temporary arrangement. I wonder if that will be until the diocese plan is finalised ? Strategically moving priests out of Hamilton city? I can't imagine they would move a new priest into the city if a major shuffle is imminent.


    4. Dominican July 2, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      A friend told me it was announced that Hillcrest Parish is now "linked" to the Cathedral and Te Rapa to Fairfield – sounds like that is permanent.

      Rotorua PP to Tauranga.  Tauranga PP to Gisborne.  Hillcrest PP to Rotorua in August

    5. Rubyshine July 2, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      I can't remember the exact phrasing but the new priest said something like, "So you'll have to put up with me for now."

      Plus I understood in the new plan that Fairfield was also going to be linked to the Cathedral, and that Te Rapa was going to be in with Frankton, Ngaruawahia, Huntly and a few others.

      I guess time will tell.

      At the end of the day, I'm a big believer that all priests have their strengths, and that all sermons have value. So whatever happens, happens.

    6. Teresina July 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      When and if we get a new bishop – as we may end up linked back with Auckland – and there has been a suggestion that Wellington and Palmerston North should be linked, then it may be all undone again!

    7. Teresina July 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      The whole concept of a parish has really been undone now, so people will go to whichever parish Mass time suits them best or whichever priest suits them best.  Despite what is being said we can expect to see parishes closed and sold off because that is what has happened in Wellington and elsewhere.  A friend who lives in Wellington said to me that she feels in Wellington as if the Faith is being withdrawn from them.

      What has been warned about for the last 50 years is coming to pass.  Would anyone listen?  No.  They weren't interested.  And even now some people will only be interested when they have no parish to go to – when they have to drive an hour or so to get to Mass.  But I doubt that the majority will even care then and will just fade away.  Fifty years of watering down the faith so really what can we expect?  Fifty years of false ecumenism where Catholics have been told by bishops and priests that one religion is as good as another so what can we expect?

      The bishops and priests have been warned for years that the Church was declining but did they care?  The answer is: closed parishes being sold off to cover burgeoning diocesan debt. 

      And most of the laity have been like the foolish bridesmaids.  The bridesmaids who have trimmed their lamps and have sufficient oil to keep their lamps burning are those who have fought for the preservation of the Faith and for the restoration of the Latin Mass – and eventually they will be the only ones that will have a Mass to go to because all the things they fought for and said were important have been proved to be the case.  Tolerance and laxity is perverse because it leads to a watering down of and the eventual loss of the faith; things seen as a nonsense and unimportant, such as priestly clericals.  Due to that alone we rarely see a visible priest in the community and so his witness is lost, potential vocations are lost as a consequence.

      Of course I could go on and on but to no avail.  The Church is in the state it's in in this country because Catholics have generally been too lax and let the ground slip away from under their feet.  They have failed to heed the warning signs and now the reality is hitting that they're running out of oil ..

    8. sienna July 7, 2014 at 10:29 am

      I am curious to know who has called Fr Sergy to the Maquesas.  My understanding was that he is Swiss Fidei Donum to the Bishop of Hamilton and pretty much on a permanent basis.  He seems to have spent an incredible amount of time in Antarctica  over the period he has been in Hamilton Diocese though.

      Has his Swiss Bishop decided to send him to the Marquesas

    9. Don the Kiwi July 7, 2014 at 11:42 am



      Fr.Yvan belongs to a missionary order, and is still subject to his superior. He was asked a couple of months ago if he would like to go to the Marquesas for a couple of years, and he agreed, thinking that he would not be posted for 12 – 18 months which is usually how long the wheels turn, and that Bp.Dennis would have plenty of time to arrange another priest. But the decision came almost straight back, much to his surprise. Hence the priestly shuffle. 

    10. Teresina July 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Mm hmm, very convenient for Bishop Browne???