Here's the story...
One of the bennies of being a priest is a sabbatical every ten years. A sabbatical can be organized in many ways, because the key purpose of the sabbatical is "rest and refreshment" for a priest's ministry. Many times, priests will have a plan for study, reflection, and travel; sometimes that study can be fairly serious, or more low-key. In the Archdiocese, there is a wide leeway about that.
Since I passed my ten year anniversary in May, I'm eligible for a sabbatical; and I'm following the advice of my first pastor, who always said, "take your time"--meaning, time off. His point was that there would be plenty of occasions when events would prevent time off, so don't be embarrassed to take it when you can.
He's right. As happens to everyone, work and family obligations will crowd in on vacations and days off. So I decided to apply for a sabbatical.
The plan is to be in Europe and the Holy Land between mid-January and mid-April; I'll be back by Holy Week. There are obviously some things to plan for in the parish, particularly making sure that any help needed from me, for Lent and Holy Week planning, happen before I go.
What about the parish?
When a priest goes on sabbatical, the Archbishop appoints a temporary administrator, who will take care of routine business matters: signing checks, and making any necessary decisions that can't wait. In my first assignment as a priest, my pastor took a sabbatical, and I was in charge. It was far easier than I expected. To a great degree, this was because the pastor was well organized and had developed a good staff; and they did their jobs. What also helped was that any planning or big decisions were either handled before he left, or else waited for his return.
It was funny, because there were those who sought me out, precisely because the boss was away, hoping I would overturn some of his decisions, or else be more sympathetic. Well, I wasn't so foolish as to fall into that trap! If it wasn't a routine matter, I'd say, "that sounds important enough that it should wait until the pastor returns." I have to admit, it amused me to witness the reaction. In several cases, the folks clearly didn't want to bring it to the pastor! But I'm sorry, that's how it had to be.
I'm very happy to tell you that Father Kyle Schnippel will serve as temporary administrator for Holy Cross-Immaculata. Father Schnippel is currently director of vocations for the Archdiocese. His ten year anniversary is next year; I hope he takes a sabbatical (once I get back)!
Father Schnippel will do a great job. He's got a cool, level head; he has some familiarity with the parish from having Mass here many times over the years, and I know he will enjoy a dip into parish ministry. And before the full intensity of Holy Week hits, I'll be back.
While on sabbatical, I don't know if I'll post much online. I haven't decided. What do you think?