Saturday, May 30, 2009

An unusual ministry

I am often asked, "Fr. John, where is your parish?" People are often surprised when I tell them that I am not assigned to a parish, or a school, retreat center, etc. I am called to be a traveling or "itinerant" preacher. I have been doing that now for almost 22 years. I say that I am called because I now consider this role to be my "vocation within a vocation".
Since 1987, based in different locations, I have visited over 330 parishes in the US and Canada (20 US states and 3 Canadian provinces) to preach missions in both English and Spanish. I have also preached several retreats to sisters and a few to my brother priests.
More than anything else my travels and encounters with a wide range of people have given me a good perspective on the mystery that we call Church. So often we think of the Church as the hierarchy, the Vatican, the local bishop, etc. The leaders are indeed important and necessary but I have learned that Church is the good people who keep showing up, struggling to maintain faith and find meaning in their everyday lives amidst economic crises, health problems and tensions in marriages and families. I have been in wealthy places and poor,conservative and liberal, urban, suburban and rural parishes, and been in the midst of people of various cultures, races and languages. What they all have in common is a thirst for God and an assurance that God is with them in their everyday lives.
It is and has been a privilege and an enriching experience to serve in such a ministry and to do so with my brother friars and at times with Franciscan sister and with lay people. It is the oldest Franciscan ministry, along with service to the poor, and I hope to keep on with it until am no longer able.
Just thought you'd like to know what I'm about. My God give you Peace!

My Pentecost reflection can be heard on my podcast channel

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