Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Recharging My Battery (Once Again)

Sunset at the beach on vacation

Dear Parishioners,

Some people may find it hard to believe—since I have to do it practically everyday of my life now—but one of the greatest fears in my life was speaking in public.  When I initially contemplated a priestly vocation, I actually thought that it would be great being a priest—just as long as I didn’t have to say anything publicly.  I know that this particular fear exists for many people.  I have worked to overcome my anxiety over the years, with God’s grace.

That being said, I still very much like being quiet and alone at times.  Whether in my room, driving in my car, praying in church, or walking along the beach, I like my quiet time.  Basically, I am an introvert.  This means that usually I get re-energized when I am alone.  It’s not that I don’t like being around people or haven’t been able to develop the necessary interpersonal skills required as a priest.  Extroverts get recharged being around people.  I am just the opposite.

I think that knowing who I am and trying to understand myself, helps me to comprehend some of the decisions that I make. Why do I gravitate towards a silent, monastic retreat?  Why do I find so much solace praying quietly in front of the Blessed Sacrament?  Why do I usually vacation in places where I can find quiet and peace of mind?  (Why am I writing this to you from one of those quiet places now?)

I am on a brief vacation right now recharging my battery.  (Although I recently arrived at the parish, my vacation had been arranged well before I would be assigned to Woodbury.)  I like the beach—having grown up at the Jersey shore in Wildwood—and so I frequently spend time near an ocean or shore.  For a brief time, I will be alone (with God, of course!).  I have already met up with a few friends who usually vacation when I do so that I am not completely by myself.  My ultimate goal is to be refreshed and renewed when I return to the parish.  I have time to pray (especially the Mass as I bring my travelling Mass-kit with me), to read, to write, to exercise and just to relax.

Reflecting on Jesus’ life, He too was found at various places—by the sea (Mt. 4:18), in the wilderness (Lk. 5: 16), up the mountain (Mk. 6: 45-46, Lk. 6: 12), in the garden (Lk. 22: 39-46)—where He could pray, reflect and be alone.  I suspect He knew best how to find the necessary quiet time after days of preaching, teaching and active ministry.

I usually find that it does me a world of good to withdraw from the daily routine for some extended time and to find a corner of the world where I can recharge my inner battery.  Besides, the parish staff (wherever I've been) usually agrees that I am much more pleasant and easier to work with after some time away!  Just think of how good this vacation time is for them!

See you in another week!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Getting ready to celebrate a private Mass

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Seeing things with a New Set of Eyes (Mine!)

Dear Parishioners,

As a high school administrator for about two decades, I would instruct my fellow administrators to enter the school building each day with a “new set of eyes.”  I would try to do this myself as part of a morning ritual.  I looked around the school and asked myself various questions:  What did I observe today?  Is there anything that I had become so familiar with that I almost overlooked it or took it for granted?  Who was there?  What were they doing?  What was my overall impression?  What did I see?

For the next weeks and perhaps months, I will be going through my observation ritual at the Sunday and daily Masses at Holy Angels Parish.

First, I will certainly formulate some initial impressions at the weekend Masses as I begin looking around:  Do people actively participate?  What are the crowds like?  How is the music and singing?  Are people friendly towards one another?  Do people leave early?  Are there many families and children?  Can the priest and the readers be heard?

Similarly, I am sure that you will be observing me (and the two other new priests assigned to the parish):  How long is the homily?  Is it interesting?  Can he sing?  Is he friendly?  Can I understand him?  Is he reverent?

In between unpacking, becoming familiar with the staff and parishioners, checking out all the buildings and facilities, preparing for the relocation of the elementary school, and many other routine duties, I will certainly need some time to pray.  It is prayer that will sustain me/us.  Personally, I find that when my prayer life is in order, the rest of my life seems to flow more smoothly.  Pressures will inevitably be there, but prayer helps to make things more bearable.

Do you notice how we pray for Pope Francis and Bishop Dennis Sullivan at every Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer?  The many responsibilities that they hold certainly deserve a regular remembrance in our prayers.  Similarly, could you remember to say a prayer or two for your new pastor and the priests/deacons of our parish on a regular basis?  We need and depend on your prayers as well!  Know that you will be remembered in my Masses and when I pray the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) each day.

As time passes, my hope is that this parish will grow in deeper holiness together with your priests.  This can only happen if we pray for each other, support each other, and be willing to reach out and help each other.

I realize that some of our parishioners may be on vacation during the summer.  I will also be taking some vacation time later this month as has been my custom.  However, when things return to more of a routine in the Fall, I anticipate observing and learning the rhythm and personality of this parish.

In the meantime, know that I will be looking around—continually.  I’ll let you know later what I see!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Nothing like the "deer in the headlights" look!