As a priest I’ve been trained in the virtue of detachment. I need to be able, when my bishop gives me the word, to walk away from one ministry for the sake of another. St. Philip Neri put it well: When we go from one assignment to another, we “leave Christ for Christ.” After years of encountering Jesus in a place we’ve come to know as home, we must move on to another place where Jesus awaits us.
Here’s my confession: it’s not easy to do. Those of you who are experienced parents know this. At some point you transition into the next phase. You send your children to school. You send them to college. They leave home and they start a life independent of yours. It’s hard to let go.
But it’s part of my life and yours. And with this column I’m letting go.
I’m now full-time pastor at Good Shepherd Church, and I’ve moved onto a different mode of evangelization. I’ve actually been on the job for several months, and the place and people make me unspeakably happy. I’m enjoying the chance to follow the advice I’ve been giving in these pages for the last few years! And I’m sharing that task with amazing new co-workers, parishioners, neighbors and friends.
So it’s time for me to turn the keys for the archdiocesan office over to a brother priest.
Father Jim Clarke is the new director of the office. Father Jim is an experienced teacher, pastor, and spiritual director. He’s taught at our own St. John’s Seminary and at Loyola Marymount University. He’s spiritual director at the Cardinal Manning House of Prayer for Priests, and he’s served in several administrative roles in the archdiocese.
Father Jim is the author of two books: “Creating Rituals: A New Way of Healing for Everyday Life” (Paulist, 2011) and “Soulcentered: Spirituality for People on the Go” (Paulist, 2015). He is widely traveled, fluent in Spanish, and ready to evangelize in this richly diverse land that is our home.
Archbishop José H. Gomez established the archdiocesan Office of New Evangelization in 2013, appointing me as its director. We called it Radiate LA, after Pope Francis’ definition of a Christian — as “one who loves Christ … radiates joy.”