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Transfer of parish priests

Often we read letters by parishioners in local newspapers lamenting the transfer of their parish priest. Some were so grieved as to consider such transfer as a loss. I have served for 27 years in a parish, nine of which as parish priest. I realise how hard it is to part with someone who gave sterling service to the parish.

While I am sensitive to their laments and quite understand their grievance, I do not consider the transfer of parish priests as a loss. Some parishioners think otherwise.

I fully stand by my statement after a personal experience which I relate below. Hopefully, it will help towards an increase in faith and spiritual maturity.

I dedicated 13 years of my priestly ministry in Jhansi diocese, India, then a mission entrusted to our Maltese Capuchin Province. There I had the privilege of working very closely with the Sisters of Charity, better known as the Sisters of Mother Teresa. I often had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa. I used to join her and the Sisters helping the poorest of the poor. But I disliked the way she used to transfer and interchange a full community of Sisters from one mission station to another overnight. My station was no exception.

When this occurred repeatedly, I complained rather strongly, telling Mother Teresa that these transfers were disrupting our work in the mission.

Her voice in reply still echoes in my mind to this very day. She told me: "Dear Father, the work in the mission is God's work. It cannot be disrupted, as He knows what to be done".

I hope that my experience will give spiritual solace to those who consider the transfer of their parish priest as a loss. May they heed the words of this saintly woman, that their parish work is God's work. So He knows what is to be done.

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