Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monsignor: Part I

In the spring of '95, I was looking forward to graduating from college. I would soon be signing a one year commitment to serve with a Catholic Service Corps in the greater Hartford area.  My life was going along as I had planned and the future possibilities were exciting.  Then one afternoon, while sitting in my campus apartment, the telephone rang and a thick Irish accented voice on the other end said, "Hello. My name is Fr. O'Shea and I would like to speak with you for a few moments."  As it turned out, he was the pastor of a near-by Catholic church.  Recently, the Director of Religious Education had resigned and he was looking to fill that position.  He explained that my name had been given to him as someone who could possibly fit that need.  "Can we schedule an interview then?" he asked.

Me:  Um, excuse me Father, but how did you get my name?
Fr:  Our current DRE met you a few years ago and she remembered your name and said you were going to school for Religious Studies.

I had met this woman in 1993.  I was volunteering at a Catholic church down the street from campus and was asked to chaperon a group of young people to the upcoming World Youth Day in Denver.  This woman was a chaperon from another church, but we rode the same bus.  We would run into each other on occasion after that trip.

Me:  Thank you Father for your call, but I am not looking for a job at this time.  I plan on moving out east after graduation.  I responded very confidently and proudly.
Father:  Well then you just take a few days and think about it and I'll give you a call back.

Then he hung up the phone.

Was I not clear in telling him that I was not interested in an interview?  Why on earth would he then call me back?

He didn't call back in a few days, he actually called back the next day.

Father:  Did you have a chance to think about our conversation yesterday?
Me:  Yes Father, but I plan on moving to Hartford in a couple of months.  
Father:  Why don't you take a drive out our way and see the parish.  We could then visit a bit.

Why wasn't he getting the hint?  I did not want to work in parish ministry.  So the next thing I did was to call my mom.  I explained to her the unusual conversations I was having with this very stubborn priest.  In my mother's wisdom, she asked, "Do you think this could be a calling from God for your life?  I know you have your heart set on Connecticut, but maybe you need to pray about this situation.  If nothing else, go for the visit and gain some experience in interviewing."

The next afternoon, Fr. O'Shea called again (persistent bugger isn't he?).  We decided that I would come the next day to meet with him and tour the parish.

I drove to what seemed like the middle of no-where.  Fr. O'Shea greeted me at the door and had me follow him to a conference room.  There sat the current DRE.  So the three of us visited for a short time.  Father wanted to know a little about me; where I was originally from, who my family was, etc.  Then he asked, "if you disagree with the Church on any issue, how do you resolve that?"


I did not prepare a response for that question!

I have no recollection on how I answered him, and yet I remember that question so well.  Somehow I muddled through the remainder of the interview and then the DRE gave me a quick tour of the church.  I left feeling relieved that it was over and I could get back to my life.

A few days later, Fr. O'Shea called and offered me the position.  A bit stunned and a little speechless, I told him I would like a few days to think about it.  He replied, "take all the time you need."

And then he called me the next day.

And the next.

Feeling very confused about what to do, I got on my knees and prayed and then turned to my family for guidance.  My parents and my siblings all felt I should take the job.  What truly helped me make my decision was the advice my mom gave me.  She said that just because I accept a position, doesn't mean that I agree to have it for life.  She told me to give it a year, and if I was truly miserable, then I could move home for the summer and commit to the Service Corps the following fall.

Then next time Father called I had my answer for him.  I accepted the position as DRE and would begin my year in August.


  1. Sadly, I think I know where this is going. :( Father O'Shea was my priest for a very long time at The Cathedral! My heart is so sad!!!

  2. I'm so glad that I can move right over to part II and not have to practice patience on this.