Transition has been the major theme around St. Joseph Parish this past summer. Our pastor received a new assignment leading to a transition in leadership, at the same time excellent opportunities came up for several of our staff members leading them to leave their positions, all while the parish physically transitioned into a new office space so that the old office building could be demolished, to make way for a school addition that will come later. Needless to say it was a summer full of change.
Transition is always a difficult thing, there is something comfortable and familiar with the known, and change always brings about a little fear of the new and uncertain. Yet at the same time transition is also a time of excitement and anticipation, it represents a tremendous opportunity for a parish to examine itself and how it might continue to grow in the future.
When facing transition one can dwell in the fear of the uncertain, or one can embrace the opportunity for growth. I was so relieved when it became clear that the parish’s response to our time of transition was to embrace this opportunity for growth. So many of our parishioners and staff members gave so much of themselves to make our transition as smooth as possible.
While our transition was certainly not without its hiccups, the patience and generosity of our parishioners was a great reminder to me that transition goes best when it is embraced rather than feared. Embracing transition doesn’t mean that drastic change is a certainty, but that growth is impossible when we simply cling to the familiar and known. This sometimes requires of us a willingness to accept the unknown and uncertain.
I will be forever grateful for the immense enthusiasm of our parish during this summer of transition, not only for their emotional support, but also for their willingness to pitch in and help wherever they could—including moving the entire parish office into a new building on the hottest day of the summer (a feat that was accomplished in an amazing four hours). Their energy will always be a constant reminder to me that although transition can be scary and intimidating, if it is something that is embraced with zeal and enthusiasm it is also something that can be extremely fruitful, and can foster in us growth in holiness.
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y., and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School. He entered seminary while a student at the University of Notre Dame. He professed Final Vows in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2013. Learn more about Holy Cross parish ministry here.