El Paso Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz met with priests in the diocese last week and talked about several objects.
He blogged about the topics, a portion of which can be read below, at www.bishopseitz.org
"This region remains so very new to me. I assured them I will be working very hard to become familiar with it, its history, geography, its people, its issues. That will take time and will require some patience. But I know that I have a great treasure of wisdom and experience in the priests of the Diocese. I will need to take every opportunity to hear them and to receive their guidance. With this in mind I reappointed the Vicars, pro tem. We may in time have a new process for selecting Vicars. I have also formed a Personnel Board which will be meeting next week for the first time. We will elect and appoint a new Presbyteral Council. I plan to appoint Consultors soon.
"On the Presbyteral Council we will consider such things as the need for a Pastoral Planning process for the Diocese, we will examine pay and benefits of priests, we will review sacramental and other policies and update them where needed.
"The priesthood had its beginning in the group of presbyters or elders who advised the bishop. As such, their collegiality, their brotherhood is an essential element of the presbyteral ministry. I told them I would like to see us build that brotherhood. We will look for ways we can break down the distances between us. To do this we will need more opportunities for spiritual, formational and social gatherings.
"In the limited time available I addressed a number of issues, knowing that others would have to wait for another day. Here are a few issues I addressed:
"Safe Environment – One of my priorities, I reminded them, will be to strengthen our Safe Environment Program. We have suffered a great deal in this Diocese from the effects of child abuse. I want to make sure we are doing everything in our power to assure that our parishes are places where people can feel safe and where they can be educated about this scourge on our society.
"Casitas – We are hoping that the first Casitas San Mateo will be ready sometime in September. I will be looking to the new Personnel Board to deal with issues relating to the assignment of priests to the Casitas. We are also in the process of forming a board that will oversee policies relating to the casitas, to their maintenance and other issues.
"Vocations – Vocations will be a big theme for me and for our Diocese. We need vocations of women and men to all forms of religious life. Our special responsibility as a Diocese will be to call forward men who will discern a vocation to the diocesan priesthood. We are beginning this year with 15 men in the seminary. 9 of them are in Theology. One, Deacon Allan, will be Ordained this December, God willing. I appealed to the priests that I would need your help on this. I told them that the best way they can promote vocations is to themselves be happy, holy priests.
"All of these aspects are important in the short term, but I am more convinced than ever that preparing people to live deeply Christian Marriages and to form vital families open to life is absolutely essential. Within this context young people will naturally ask what God’s will might be for their lives and be disposed to give themselves with generosity.
"Financial – Thanks in large measure to work of our priests with the laity the Diocese is plugging along pretty well on the financial front. At the present we are in the black. However, during the interregnum some momentum may have been lost in regard to the annual Progress appeal. It is presently several hundred thousand behind in pledges. I asked them to consider whether there is anything they can do, especially if their parish hasn’t yet made its goal, to encourage more people to pledge and to support the many essential works of the Diocese.
"We concluded the meeting with the comments, questions and lunch. I departed the meeting very encouraged and proud to have the opportunity to work with this great group of men so dedicated to the service of the Lord in the Church."