Hopes and Prayers for a New Pastor

8 May 2011

Rev. Carmine J. Sacco, S.J.

We learned at Mass today that our parish priest, Rev. Carmine Sacco, S.J. is retiring some time this year.

We also learned that the Jesuits have appointed Rev. Gene Delmore, S.J. to succeed him. A quick search revealed that Fr. Delmore is currently serving as associate pastor of Saint Joseph’s in Yakima, and that he is scheduled to leave there in July.

I pray that Fr. Delmore is a good man and a faithful priest.

Being a pastor is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, I think. The responsibility of shepherding souls must be a great weight, though God provides graces to all priests to persevere in their vocation. I try not to stress pastors any more than they already are – I really only expect two things from any priest, never mind a pastor.

I expect that they will be faithful to the Magisterium – the teaching authority of the Church – and I expect them to show reverence to the sacred liturgy – to “say the black and do the red”.

Rev. Eugene P. Delmore, S.J.

These two things are foundational; it would seem to me that they flow naturally from a great love of God and His Church.

Father Sacco exhibits both of these qualities, to which the grace of God has added other gifts as well – a pastoral heart, a genuine love for those he shepherds, and no apparent fear of preaching the Truth. He’s a pastoral workaholic and a holy man. Saint Rita’s has been unaccountably blessed to have him, and to have him for thirty years.

His kind is all too rare in this age.

I’m no theologian, but sometimes a priest preaching heresy or disobedience from the ambo is so blatant that no one can mistake it. I have heard both heresy and disobedience preached in this archdiocese. In fact, the pastor of Saint James Cathedral in Seattle is rather famous for trying to organize widespread disobedience to the new liturgical norms.

I pray that our new pastor is faithful to the teaching of the Church and obedient to Her bishops.

As for liturgical abuses – in my experience, they are so widespread that a priest who actually follows the Missal and the GIRM is a rare thing.

Commonplace violations include the use of glass vessels, instrumental music and removal of holy water from fonts during Lent, skipping the Confiteor, arbitrarily changing the words of the prayers, over-reliance on extraordinary ministers, and so forth. Some might argue that even taken together, these aren’t heart-stoppingly serious.

But I’ve also experienced priests who insisted on changing every line of every prayer, priests who paraphrased their “reading” of the Gospel, priests who have changed the order of the rites during the Mass, and those who have skipped huge sections of rites or prayers, presumably for time.

I’ve been at Masses where the congregation was so confused with what was going on that they didn’t respond at all when they should have. So much for “active participation”.

And don’t get me started on the homilies I’ve heard! I’ve seen everything from lay people delivering homilies reflections at Mass to priests preaching on the texts of country and western songs instead of Holy Scripture.

Where do you draw the line? There are Masses I’ve attended where I’m sure the consecration was invalid.

Why, O why can the priests not just follow the instructions and read the texts as written? Do they think they’re smarter and more holy than the combined weight of 2,000 years of liturgical development? Is it pride? What is it?

Am I just being unreasonable here? I don’t think so. The Church has repeatedly affirmed that the faithful have a right to liturgy done by the book. Why is it so very rare?

We are very fortunate at Saint Rita’s in regards to the liturgy. Oh, it might not be always exacting, but you’re not really going to get perfection in anything this side of heaven.

Our liturgy is reverent, and even if I don’t like the music sometimes, it is nearly always at least appropriate – we can argue about matters of taste, but we shouldn’t have to argue about the texts and rubrics.

I pray that our new pastor will just “say the black and do the red”.

3 Responses to Hopes and Prayers for a New Pastor

  1. Theo on 8 May 2011 at 8:22 PM

    I’d certainly want someone to follow the rules. The rules seem to be changed fairly often what with Vatican II etc. Does that mean those people were prideful enough to make changes and only strict adherence to mutliply-translated texts is holy? I think they’re all trying to do what they think is best according to how they were taught and what they believe.

    The Church has been very right and very wrong in the past and without a diversity of experiences how does the Church keep from stagnating and slipping into the hollowness of automated worship?

    Sure some priests, popes, and laymen might disagree but it takes disagreement to keep an organization vibrant as a method of self-checking. Plus it’s not as in ye olde days. You can go to a different Church and voting with your feet will get someones attention.

  2. Thom
    Thom on 8 May 2011 at 8:59 PM

    I think there’s a difference between disagreement and dissent.

    Think of it like football. There are certainly grey areas, but by and large the players and the fans expect the refs to enforce the rules, and the refs and the fans expect the players to abide by the rules.

    There’s a huge difference between arguing about a ref’s call and the ref just using a totally different rulebook.

    At some point, you’re not playing football any more – you’re playing rugby. Or tennis.

    Vatican II ended before I was born. There have not been any structural changes to the Missale Romanum since 1969. Even the recent version (2002) simply adds in some new prayers and options.

    There are plenty of legal options in celebrating the Mass – one priest figured out that he could pray the Mass differently every day for more than a year and use a different set of options each time.

    With so many legitimate options, why insist on making up your own?

    And there really are a lot of parishes out there where the worship of God has been replaced by the “Father Bob Show”. Go and experience it some time, and you will see what I mean. There are a large number of priests of the generation that came of age in the 1970s who think that their job is to entertain, rather than to lead their people in the sacred liturgy.

    Surely they must know that it’s not about them; it’s about God.

  3. [...] Sacco is an extraordinary priest, as I’ve mentioned before. He has faithfully served the Church and the Society of Jesus for more than sixty years. He has [...]

Pope Francis



Servus Servorum Dei

I Peter 5:8

Fratres : Sóbrii estóte, et vigiláte : quia adversárius vester diábolus tamquam leo rúgiens circuit, quærens quem dévoret : cui resístite fortes in fide.

Brethren, be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.

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