Fr. Timothy Shea

Blog #11: My First Sabbatical

June 17, 2020

Our diocese allows priests to go on a sabbatical every ten years if they wish. I have had 3 sabbaticals during my 46 years of priesthood.

My first sabbatical was in 1989 after 15 years of priesthood. It was in Santa Barbara, California for 3 months. There were 27 priests on the sabbatical from all over North America. Three of us were Canadians. The purpose of this sabbatical was to be a refresher course in scripture, sacraments, canon law and moral theology….

It was very good, but I learned more at the dining room table than I did in the classroom. It was interesting to hear what other priests were doing in their parishes. At that time, I was in the small parish of St. Columbanus in Elgin. My priest life was very different from all the other priests. One of the priests was the pastor of a large parish in a poor part of Los Angeles. It was also a part of Los Angeles where there was a lot of inner-city violence. When he would get a sick call to anoint someone in the middle of the night, he would call the police. The police would send two cars: one would take him to the address for the sick call while the other car would stay at the rectory. The police who accompanied him would make sure he was safe. The second squad car would stay at the rectory so it would not be robbed while the pastor was away….it was very interesting to learn how life can be so different for others. Ever since then I have tried to appreciate and be thankful for the life I have; while at the same time to remember to pray for others who have a life that is more difficult than mine. Even though your life might have its own challenges, appreciate and be thankful for the life you have. Also, pray for others who have difficult lives!!

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