Fr. Bulldozer

When New Pastors Change Too Much Too Soon

Every parish priest I know keeps a junk drawer in the sacristy. It’s usually long and narrow and built into the vesting counter, a great place to keep cough drops, an extra handkerchief, or the notes for your homily, a place to stash a spare battery for the cordless microphone. These drawers never have locks because nothing really valuable is ever in them. Yet there is an unwritten code among clergy that you never open or rifle through someone else’s junk drawer.

I recently heard about a new pastor who violated that code. Within two weeks of being assigned to the parish, he reinstituted the ringing of bells during the consecration, recarpeted the entire rectory, and painted a wooden statue of Mary bright blue. Most shocking, he cleaned out his fellow priest’s junk drawer without warning or permission, while the priest was still living in and working at the parish. It was bad form and went a long way toward promoting staff anarchy.

I wish he were an exception to the rule, but more and more I get an earful about how Fr. Bulldozer walked in on day one and began making sweeping changes. What has happened to patience and gentleness? What happened to showing sensitivity to a community in transition? This sort of wisdom used to be passed down around rectory dining tables from...

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About the Author

Fr. Nonomen (a pseudonym) is the pastor of a suburban parish. He has been a priest for more than twenty years.