Sep 9, 2009

Shuffling Off to Buffalo After 9 Awesome Years




It is with mixed emotions that I announce that after 9 years I have decided to leave Busted Halo® full-time to focus on more direct ministry with young adults as a Campus Minister at St Joseph's University Parish (pictured above) which also serves as the Newman Center for SUNY Buffalo.

The move comes after much reflection over the past few years on my part, on what my own gifts and talents are and how I can best use them to serve the church. I found that doing retreats, spiritual direction with young adults and preaching were where I found the most life in ministry and while spending a good deal of time working on Busted Halo's® Catechetical section, the podcast and speaking around the country, I've felt like I need to test many of the ideas in my book with a particular community. When St Joseph's approached me, I was intrigued by the idea of working at a Univeristy Parish and with the biggest school in the state and moving to a new place that is not that far away from family and friends and yet, still a new adventure where I can grow as a minister.

Busted Halo® and I are talking about how I can continue to contribute to their ministry from Buffalo despite moving on from full time status, something I am open to pursuing and that I think has mutual benefits for all involved. I will remain in New York for the next month or so, finishing up some projects with Busted Halo® and chairing the Sapientia et Doctrina dinner for Fordham's Graduate School of Religion. I will also direct NCYAMA's National Listening Session Project for the next 3 years and remain on the board for the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham where we are planning a major conference on the transition between college and young adult life in June 2010.

Naturally, I'll also remain on the conference circuit as a speaker...so keep those invites coming.

St Joseph's is a great community! I attended mass their last Sunday and was really impressed by their community's atmosphere. I join their staff with some familiar faces nearby. The great Patty Bubar Spear is the youth minister on staff and we know each other from the conference circuit. Ann Marie Eckert is on the staff of the Center for Ministry Development and she rents office space at the parish and has been a great friend for some time as well. So this is hardly foreign territory for me.


I'm excited for a new challenge! Fr. Dave Dwyer, Busted Halo's® director is happy that I am moving into something that reflects my own pastoral gifts and I have received many touching letters from a lot of my Paulist friends who have and always will mean the world to me. I know that the spirit of Paulist Founder Isaac Hecker will always live in my heart and that I will remain "a Paulist" forever. I owe those men everything. They have made me all that I am as a minister and they trusted me with a project that was a new venture and I am proud of the success that Busted Halo® has become and confident that it will remain the industry standard for young adult evangelization.

Special thanks go to the many Paulists and lay associates who I have worked alongside for so many years especially, Fr Brett Hoover, CSP who founded the ministry with me 9 years ago and remains one of my closest friends and colleagues. Bill McGarvey, who knows how to run a magazine better than anyone I know took the reigns of Busted Halo® and deserves much credit for its continued success. Fr Dave Dwyer, CSP, whose gifts of enthusiasm, broadcasting, and good humor (along with an infectious laugh) have made him one of the more prolific figures in the American priesthood today has become someone who I have been so gifted to work alongside. Fr Frank DeSiano, CSP, who hired me for the position of Associate Director, when he was Paulist President provided early leadership and had the insight for the Paulists to enter the world of young adult ministry. He then gave Fr. Brett and I a lot of freedom to experiment and try something new and creative. The current Paulist President Fr John Duffy, CSP helped me gain more education at Fordham and was always more than supportive of us.

To the great staff at the Graduate School of Relgion at Fordham, especially Fr Tony Ciorra and Dr Kieran Scott, your support produced much fruit in the publication of the book, Googling God. Without Fr. John's generosity and Fordham's pushing I never would have been able to write the book, nor would these posts exist. Fr Michael Hunt, CSP and Fr Michael Kerrigan, CSP also helped shepherd the book into it's final form. Fr Hunt did not live to see the book published but I know that he was proud of the project and he was a great supporter who I owe a great debt of gratitude. Rest in peace, Michael.

Two new colleagues, Brittany Janis and Jarrad Venegas made Busted Halo® an even harder place to leave. I will miss working alongside them so much each day, but I know we will keep in touch from afar. Jeff Guhin always made me laugh whenever I was in his presence and will soon become Yale's most prolific sociologist. Our Googling God experts made me look good and make my job easy as the editor of the Question Box: Ginny Kubitz Moyer, Fr Thomas Ryan, CSP, Rachel Bundang, Fr Rick Malloy, SJ and Joe Paprocki --you are all so gifted and talented as teachers of the faith in a new technological age.

For those of you who led Busted Halo® retreats...thank you, thank you thank you. You have given me much strength over the years. Special thanks to Andrea Spooner who led more retreats than anyone just because I asked her. My Chicago colleagues at Charis Retreats, Michael Sparough, SJ, Jenene Francis (now a bigwig at the province), Lauren Gaffey, Lauren Burke and Briana Colton--thanks for your support. We'll keep the retreats going in Buffalo!

And to those who I served on the board with at NCYAMA, most especially to Paul Jarzembowski and Michelle Miller who served as Executive Directors and Sr. Eileen McCann and Barbara Anderson who were USCCB liaisons, there's nobody better in the biz than y'all.

As for this blog, it will continue. Perhaps more in the morning hours when students are in class (or sleeping off the partying!), or as time allows in general. But I will not leave you orphans!

For all who have supported me for the past 9 years, I have no other words but "thank you." My wife and biggest fan, Marion has shared me with all of you and we are both looking forward to a new life together in Buffalo where she and our dog, Haze, will share me with 27,000 students, half of whom share our Catholic faith! Without Marion, I am truly nothing.

It will be, and has been, an adventure in which much love to the world of young adults has been fulfilled in Christ.

Please keep us in your prayers and pray for the possible Sainthood of Fr Hecker as that process continues for my brother Paulists.

5 comments:

Fran said...

Blessings in great abundance to you, Marion and Haze as you move into a new chapter of life.

And I think that things in Buffalo are going to be heating up, ministry wise that is!

God has asked this of you and here you are going off to live what God has asked.

What can be more beautiful than that?

Michelle said...

God grant success to the next work of your hands as well!! And under 15 feet of snow, you'll have tons of time to blog, no?

Anonymous said...

Mike and Marion will be missed by many especially their pastor. I wish them all of God's choicest blessings!

Msgr. Hardiman

Paul said...

Dear Mike,

We are going to greatly miss having you near us in NYC!

THANK YOU so much for all you have done for Busted Halo. The BH retreats were some of the best in which I have participated.

Many prayers for you and Marion and Haze as you begin this new adventure!

Pace e Bene,
Paul


P.S. I hear it snows a lot in Buffalo. Feel free to call this Pittsburgher anytime for snow drift survival tips.

Anonymous said...

Mike, all the best as you transition to Buffalo. Thanks for all you did to encourage young adult ministry in the Military Archdiocese. May God bless you as you continue to share your gifts.

Mark Moitoza

Googling God

Googling God
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