Father Vincent on Ministry

Picture Fr. Vincent in full firefighter turnout gear, clothing and boots designed to protect from heat and flames.

Now, picture him driving a fire truck or holding the business end of a fire hose.

Keep that image in mind.

What about the thought of a teenage Vincent Gilmore inspecting beehives, collecting honey and learning about the instinctive work ethic of the humble honey bee.

Those visions were parts of a pair of parables the new Holy Rosary leader presented to a gathering of about 30 parish ministry leaders on October 15 as part of a retreat designed to help the pastor and lay leaders understand their roles in developing a cohesive relationship and a smooth running parish.

One aim was to “help leadership and the new pastor have a common understanding of the parish structure and archdiocesan guidelines for consultative leadership,” said Pat Buckley, an archdiocese staff member who acted as consultant and meeting facilitator.

But one of the most impressive parts of the morning session were Fr. Vincent’s opening remarks when he recounted how he joined the volunteer fire department while he was stationed for about a year on tiny Shaw Island in the San Juans. It was a place where just about every able-bodied person had a role to play in daily life, including firefighting and rescue.

He did not know much about firefighting, but he could drive a truck. hold a fire hose and learn. The story emphasized how parishioners can and should react to liturgy, outreach and other ministries within the parish structure.

The same with the bees that Fr. Vincent tended as a teen growing up in Eastern Washington.

He got to know the bees as a living organism, each one doing its small part with a role in protecting the hive and queen while making it flourish.

The same can be said for the functions of a vital, active parish, because everyone has a role.

The retreat was a post-transition training session for ministry leaders.

“It works for all leaders to see the role of a pastoral council,” Pat said. It gave ministry leaders a chance to identify their own place in a parish structure on a deeper level and a have a common understanding of language, such as the word “consensus.”

“Father is clear that he is not a micromanager and wants the parish to be involved in the planning,” Pat said.

She has worked for the archdiocese 25 years, helping parishes undergoing transition when a new pastor comes on board. She has a doctorate of ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

In the session, she talked about authority and shared responsibility, two principles maintained by the Church since 1983.

Pastors and lay leaders must always focus on using the responsibility entrusted to them to enable all parishioners to participate more fully in the life and mission of the parish, she said.

For things to work smoothly, there must be belief in the power of the Holy Spirit and the presence of grace, a belief that we are all called to share the responsibility for the mission of the church, a commitment to build consensus whenever possible and mutual trust, according to the presentation.

Fr. Vincent has established a parish financial council, and is expected soon to reach out to parishioners to form a pastoral council to advise him. Each will have a separate role, she emphasized.

From the evaluation sheets filled out by session attendees, Pat said the words informative, helpful, enlightening and interesting were frequently used. In addition, participants said they now have a better understanding of the roles of pastoral and financial councils, as well as a shared responsibility to make decisions.