Inner-city Contemplation and Action


There are a few phrases that I find really heartening to describe our work. One begins an article: “It is a beautiful thing to see a good pastor at work.” Chew on it, and the phrase bears tremendous respect for the art of being pastor. Another phrase that helps me comes from a priest describing a ministry resembling my own: “One must be a contemplative to work in the inner-city.”

Jesus was sent into the world. Jesus was sent by the Father not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by him. We, too, are sent into the world. Into its very heart. We parish priests live close to the people. It is a privileged view. Without earning it, without deserving it, we are with folks, invited in, at the most intimate of moments in their lives. Moments of joy-- births, baptisms, marriages. Moments of sorrow-- in the confessional, hospital visits, deaths, funerals. Ours is a privileged view.

Some days, I am really tired. I feel like I have seen about all the garbage that the world can dish out. It can seem so ugly. So rotten. Burying folks at too young an age. Domestic violence. Addictions. Bills people have to pay. I give someone $20 bucks, only to find out later from Fr. Michael Mathews, C.S.C. that the same person tried a different story on him. I hardly want to admit to him that the guy got money from me. Sometimes, I am short with people. Sometimes my temper gets the better of me. Sometimes, I lack the patience necessary for it all.

There is also the old phrase: if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. I think that is not quite right. We never do well those most important things in life-- like reading Shakespeare and loving one another, but they are worth doing anyhow. Because, as Hemingway wrote: "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for."

It was such a fine place that the Father sent his Son. And the Congregation sends us. Not to condemn the world, but that it might be saved by Him who has loved us.

Holy Week at St. Adalbert






In the midst of Holy Week, we join with whole church for the celebration of these holiest of days. These are a few snapshots of our celebration of these great days.