Saturday, May 24, 2014

As We Gathered at the River

Friday afternoon at the Paulist Motherhouse in New York City, the 2014 Paulist General Assembly was called to order by the outgoing President.  After the formal preliminaries of seating the delegates and ascertaining the presence of a quorum to do business, the outgoing President gave his final Presidential Report to the community and then handed the gavel over to the new President.  

Later that day, a beautiful Installation installation in the Paulist Mother Church was celebrated, at which we concelebrating Paulists all renewed our promises and the new President was invested with Servant of God Isaac Hecker’s Mission Cross. The fact that our new President is himself a New Yorker (albeit originally from Dutchess County) and is still fondly remembered at St. Paul's from his first priestly assignment there gave the event an added dimension of local festivity. We began by singing Shall We Gather at the River, evoking the the special significance of the Hudson River in the new President's own life and in the history of our foundational Paulist parish. And later in the same Mass we sang In the Breaking of the Bread, an Easter hymn very dear to me from my own decade as associate pastor at that parish.

Following the Mass, a marvelous reception was held in auditorium organized by the parish staff, followed by a Paulist dinner at which we honored our  Golden and Silver Jubilarians and the new President officially announced the new community assignments. I can now confirm that I will be continuing as Pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Knoxville and will also become the Superior of the local Paulist community.

Today was another happy day as we celebrated the ordination of our brother Jimmy Hsu to the priesthood. As MC for the ceremony, I was necessarily preoccupied with many ritual and ceremonial details that such a celebration entails, but never too preoccupied to be moved as I always am by the grace of the priesthood and the special bond of religious community life. 

Tomorrow, Father Jimmy will celebrate his First Solemn Mass at the Mother Church. Then it is Amtrak to Washington, DC, for the continuation of the Assembly. This is my first time ever as a delegate to such an event, and I look forward to being part of the process of responding as a religious community to the challenges of the New Evangelization to which the Church is being called in this dramatic era.

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