and now what? Where to go what to do?
There is unspent energy out there, energy waiting to go somewhere, energy that exists without a goal. There are people waiting in the wings while the stage is full, just watching. There is old and there is new but nothing in between.
Times are tough. If you’re a Priest and you have a reasonably good situation then you hold on for all its worth, especially if you’re not financially able to retire or haven’t really prepared. If you’re a seminarian you know you’ll probably get something, anything, because the Church has paid your way and there’s an interest in return on investment. But there’s nothing else.
If you’ve been out of the loop for even a short time there is really nowhere to go. No one is retiring and anything that comes open goes to the kids. I understand this. I was warned about this when I asked for a sabbatical. Yet its still hard to be floating somewhere in the middle, attached but not grounded, needed in some way but without really knowing for sure. Harder still if you’ve been too busy to develop the kind of corporate connections you thought you wouldn’t need because this is the Church.
The truth is that the grass is always greener on the other side. There are Priests out there who probably feel trapped in their own parishes but have no way of reasonably getting out at this time. So they mark the days and envy those of us not really tied down to a parish and the freedom that comes with it. Meanwhile there probably are others who look at life in a settled parish with a certain kind of envy as well. Its hard to be trained to do something and then find yourself unable to do it.
Ideally, I think, it would be nice if there was a wave of support for developing new parishes that could soak up some of the people and the energy of those who are temporarily out of the loop. Yet parishes are having a hard time keeping afloat themselves and so supporting a mission is problematic.
Its possible, as well, that a glut of Priests could be the catalyst for conceiving of priestly ministry in ways outside of the parish pastorate. What other things could Priests do as Priests in the world outside the parish walls? The possibilities seem to be there but can the wineskins hold the new wine?
As for myself I rested, relaxed, found a home here in the Twin Cities and then, realizing that the usual doors for ministry were at least temporarily closed decided to make my own way. The door that opened was music and I’m walking through. I have no idea if I’ll get that letter in the mail from a Bishop requesting my service. I’m in the bubble, not a seminarian who will get a parish or a senior pastor well rooted so I’m not holding my breath. Yet the music door is wide open and i can get into places and serve people with my bass guitar in ways that I could never do with my collar.
So I play, here, there, and everywhere. It keeps me busy. It keeps me doing things for God and others. Who knows? One day it may provide me with a living. The point is ministry is ministry whether I’m serving at the altar or up on stage singing about God. That, in the end, seems to be the answer, just be faithful with whatever gifts you have and lets the details rest in higher hands, not just the Bishops.