September 29, 1996, Holy Family, Seattle

People have often told me "Father, my luck is a little down. If only I could get the right break." But what really is "luck?" I once heard it expressed in this formula: Luck = opportunity + readiness. The readings this Sunday spaek about that readiness to sieze an opportunity. Those who do gain everything. Those who fail to recognize the opportunity and grasp it , lose all.

Shakespeare says: "There is a tide in the affairs of men. If taken at full, it leads on to greatness..." I believe we are at such a moment, as individuals and a parish. I would like to say something about the opportunities that are before us at this moment as a parish.

Iíd like to start with something personal. Last April I received a surprise call from our Archdiocesan Chancellor, Fr George Thomas. (I was actually taking a course in Omaha when he called.) He told me the Archbishop wanted me consider becoming the priest administrator of Holy Family Parish and lead it through a process to being a fully bilingual, multi-cultural parish. I did some serious praying, reflection and consultation with some of my close priest friends, including Fr Clenaghan who was then temporary administrator. As I did so, I became more and more excited about the assignment.

There were a number of reasons for that excitement. First I had gotten to know the parish staff and from our principal to our business adminstator, sacramental preparation to secretary, I considered them very competent and dedicated. Whatís more the Archbishop was willing to assign my old friend, Fr Pete Peterson as parrochial vicar. I would not have to give up King County Hispanic Ministry which I was and am deeply committed to.

Furthermore, I knew that Holy Family is a supportive parish and that we have many people who deeply believe in our mission here. We saw that loyalty, for example, in your great response to the Annual Catholic Appeal. I know a lot of you are anxious to move forward, to take a next step like the Gospel talks about. But you are asking, What is the overall plan? How do I fit into that? I want to say something about that this Sunday.

First of all, let me be clear. I do have, as I mentioned, a certain mandate from the Archbishop and at least a tentative personal vision for the direction I would like to see us go. But I do not have a master plan. That overall plan is going to be worked out this year in consultation. In first place with our parish council. I have asked Cathy Campell to continue as president and have invited some new members from the Philippine, Vietnamese and Hispanic communities of our parish. Not to represent interest groups, but to enter into a prayerful reflection on this question: what is specific identity and mission of our parish? How should we be organized to best meet our goals and priorities? We are going to start with an overnite retreat next Saturday and Sunday morning at St. Thomas Center, the former seminary. This process may take us a year, it may take us three years. Hopefully there will be concrete results along the way. We will need and welcome the ideas of all of you.

The parish council is the basic consultative body of the parish, but it is not the only one. We have our finance council, school ,worship and youth commissions. Each one is designed to give me the best possible input so I can make the right decisions as your pastor. I cannot attend each commission meeting, but of course have a delegate who represents me there. Thatís what Jesus is telling us in the Gospel, pray, listen to Godís will, then act confidently on it. Always with sensitivity to other people.

Now I know some of you are asking at this point, well, what about you, Father? How long are you going to be with us? I cannot predict the future, but I can say at least two things. First of all when I returned from Peru in November of 1994, I had a decision in my heart. Even though I deeply loved the people, I knew I was coming home for good. There are certainly things I can do from here to help people in Peru. And I plan to continue visiting like I will do at the end of October, but my ministry, my vocation is as a priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Second, I sincerely hope I will be able to live out my remaining years as a priest right here at Holy Family. I cannot think of a better parish or better people to be with.

At the same time I ask your patience. Because of my continued commitment to King County Hispanic Ministry it is going to take me longer to get to know you. Fortunately we have Fr Pete Peterson and our two deacons who will be providing pastoral care in the non-Hispanic part of our parish. I have asked Fr Peterson to take the main leadership in the areas of liturgy and religious education which of course is the heart of our parish life. He will be working closely with Dr. Robert Scripko, Helen Osterlie, Colin Sexton and Sr. Mary Claire Hall in carrying that out. As I said earlier I have the responsibility of providing an overall framework for our parish life. Greg McNabb, Abel MagaŮa and of course, Fr Peterson, will collaborate most directly with me in doing that. If you have concerns I ask you to make them know to me, Fr Pete or other members of the staff, as well as the consultative bodies I mentioned.

To me a compaint is an opportunity, altho I donít always like to hear them. Recently a young man after much hesitation and several apologies told me something that was bothering him about the parish. It was hard for him to say, but I appreciated him doing it. The one thing I ask is that you voice any complaint to me or some other appropriate person and not engage in small group criticism. That is what destroys parish life and the faith of our young people. Criticism, by the way, is another name for gossip. Contrary to popular opinion, we men engage in it more than women, altho we flatter ourselves that it is analysis or constructive criticism or "getting things out in the open" or "venting my feelings". But criticism, if not stated to someone who can do something about is simply old fashioned gossip and something we should leave behind. If you do have a serious concern, make it known to the right person, then be at peace. Ask the Lord what you can do to make this a better parish. We are at a moment of great opportunity. So much depends on your decision.

More homilies.