'The jilted-priest blues'

Friday, Feb. 03, 2006

by Father Sam Dinsdale

St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish

People have asked me how I feel about the announcement of our bishop moving to San Francisco and I have pondered how it makes me feel. I imagine I could say that it makes me feel naked and vulnerable as if I was stranded on the salt flats on a cold winter day with the wind howling and the low sun dropping over the horizon. I admit this is a bit dramatic, yet he was our bishop, when I started to discern whether I was should enter the seminary. He was our bishop when I was in seminary. He ordained me and was our bishop for the first two or so years of my priestly ministry. He has walked with me on my journey of discernment as a seminarian and a priest.

When I was in seminary, I listened to the woes of many seminarians who had lost their bishops either because the bishop was reassigned or had retired. They had established relationships with their bishops. Their bishops were father figures to them. Their bishops knew their gifts, their weaknesses, their histories, their families, their grades, and the series of dreaded yearly evaluations given by the seminary faculty. At times seminarians were concerned because their bishops had given them the benefit of the doubt on issues in their lives or they simply had the feeling that their bishops trusted them. They knew if they had a problem at the seminary with a faculty member their bishops would be fair to them and would listen to their side of the story. They wondered if their new bishops would support them.

So here I am. I will be meeting with classmates in Las Vegas next week to pour out my woes to a priest from San Francisco and two from Las Vegas. I will sing them a song of the jilted-priest blues.

Here we go as a presbyterate, a diocese, and the people of Utah. We say good-bye to our Bishop who helped our diocese to grow and we await the next bishop. We acknowledge he will bring with him different talents, different abilities, and maybe a different perspective but we hope that he will be wise, kind, and have a pastoral heart like our former Bishop Niederauer.

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