Fr. Schuessler Letter 1-8-23

I have been privileged and blest to be with you in retirement at St. James for the last, I think, six years or so. (Who’s counting when you’re having a good time?) I have come to care a lot for you. That’s why I’m writing about what your expectations might be during Father Geary’s sabbatical absence. I want to avoid some of the misunderstandings that disappointed and perturbed some of you the last time he was on sabbatical, and frankly were a source of stress for all of us.

With the parish staff, the deacons, other mostly retired priests and myself we will, as they say, keep the lights on and the doors open and provide as best we can the usual routine parish services of Mass, Confessions, Baptisms, funerals if needed, etc.

At the risk of being a curmudgeon, I want to be super clear that as a retired priest in residence I am not in charge. I am not even assigned to St. James. I was invited here to help out when Father Earl left to become a monk. You needed a second, preferably Spanish-speaking priest. I was grateful to have a place to stay in retirement and to be able to remain as active as my energy would allow. I am here by mutual agreement with Father Geary.

Neither I nor the parish staff have any authority to give permissions, e.g., to launch new initiatives, make exceptions to parish practice regarding the Sacraments, etc. That will have to wait for Father Geary’s return. He remains the Pastor.

I will continue to do what I typically do. I am not in a position to assume Father Geary’s work or somehow replace him in  addition to what I already do. Again, some even important things will have to wait.

With the help of others, we will do our best to respond to requests to anoint the sick. Please do not wait to the last minute to call. Best to call during office hours.

Pray for vocations. None of these clarifications would be necessary if we had lots of young energetic priests to take over rather than counting on us old coots with our limitations. The priest shortage is very real.

God bless you always. Thanks for your support, understanding, and many kindnesses.

Fr. Schuessler

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL