LUMSDEN, Sask. — Rev. James Mallon said today’s priests never trained to be leaders, yet it is one of the essential paths of the church. Mallon was the retreat master for the Regina archdiocese clergy annual retreat held May 4 - 7 at St. Michael’s Retreat in Lumsden.
Salt and Light describes Mallon as one of Canada’s finest young priests. He has produced two internationally acclaimed DVD series: Catholicism 201 and Dogmatic Theology, as well as Divine Renovations, a guide for parishes seeking to cultivate communities of discipleship and vibrant and dynamic faith communities. Mallon is pastor of St. Benedict Parish in the Halifax-Yarmouth archdiocese.
“Many of us are operating out of a model of priestly ministry of 50 years ago when the priest did everything, was a chaplain to everybody, was involved in everything.” In an interview with the PM he said priests have to move more toward models of ministry not essential to the priesthood and equip lay people to do that work. It was one of several themes Mallon talked about in the four-day retreat.
Priests do the sacraments and read the Gospels and he is not suggesting otherwise, but everything else should be done by laypeople with the priest as leader of the community. The new evangelization is a missionary call for the church, said Mallon, but parishes have “proven incredibly resistant to the call to the new evangelization because there is a particular kind of culture in parishes that resists those things.” We need to look at our sense of identity, then we need to clarify what the mission is, said Mallon, quoting Matthew 28 and Pope Francis to go make disciples, to form missionary disciples.
He told the priests that one of the most important paths of leadership is to define where you are going. “That’s a question of vision and communicating that vision.”
The meaning of being a Christian community was also one of the subjects he talked about. Mallon said Jesus told his disciples that the people will know you are my disciples by your love for one another, but “some of us say Catholics go to mass, like going to McDonald’s. You go in, get out, don’t talk to me, I want my hamburger and I want to go home.”
The Holy Spirit has a role in all of this, he said, noting that the original evangelization started in the church with the original Pentecost. “I really believe we need a new Pentecost for the new evangelization. Trying to do this without the power from on high is futile and frustrating; it’s also not being obedient with what Jesus told us to do so we have to seek empowerment from the Holy Spirit.”