A Time of Renewal

By Fr Nicholas Pearce

The Scriptures tell us that God rested on the seventh day and that He commands His creation to do the same. Each one of us is called to keep the Sabbath, as a day of rest from labour, and of the worship of God for renewal of spirit. It is in this vein that priests are encouraged, as part of their commitment to self-care and ongoing formation, to engage in a period of sabbatical every 7-10 years.

In its "Directory on the Ministry and Life of the Priests," The Congregation for Clergy suggests:

“Notwithstanding pastoral urgency, and precisely to face up to problems, such as routine, physical exhaustion or psychological fatigue, priests must be provided with time, as much as reasonably possible, so as to facilitate longer periods spent with the Lord Jesus, thus recovering strength and courage to continue the road to holiness”.

I applied earlier this year to Archbishop Comensoli for Sabbatical Leave in 2020. In the past month, the Archbishop has granted my application and with his blessing and support, I will take a period of four months' sabbatical commencing 28th December this year.

So what will I be doing? Is it an extended holiday? Not quite. Over the past two years, I have been completing a Masters in Psychology through the Institute of Psychological Sciences in Washington DC. I have been very much enjoying this work and the learning that I have already done has been incredibly beneficial to my ministry, both within the Parish and in the area of Vocations. It has though been a particular challenge at times to fit study and essay writing around my other commitments. This time of sabbatical will allow me to complete the final four units of this course full-time and graduate in the first week of May.

During this time, I will also have the opportunity to attend some other conferences and opportunities for professional development, in the areas of scripture, vocation, and the role of psychology in discernment and formation. These are important areas, especially as the Church responds to the findings of the Royal Commission. While on sabbatical, I will be living in a variety of parish settings across America, which will provide a wonderful opportunity to gain new insights to bring back to Holy Family on my return.

Fr Michael Morgan, who is a recently retired priest of the Archdiocese, has agreed to be resident supply at Holy Family during my absence. Fr Morgan will commence immediately after Christmas for a period of three months, encompassing Lent and Easter. For the final few weeks after Easter, the priests from St Andrew’s in Clayton have generously agreed to supply at weekend Masses.

I very much look forward to sharing with you, through the newsletter, some of my experiences while I am away, and hope that this time of personal renewal will bear much fruit here in the Parish on my return.