Sabbatical… A time for Listening and Renewal



Fr. Dick Game

This May, Fr. Dick will take a Sabbatical: a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, study and listen.

Sabbatical is more than a vacation from meetings, budgets, sermons and pastoral needs. It is a time for Fr. Dick to receive spiritual nourishment and to deepen his relationship with God, himself and his family. It is a season of spiritual growth, both for Fr. Dick as well as our Parish community, so that together we may listen carefully with our hearts and better “follow Christ as we welcome, nurture, love and feed all God’s children.”

The Rule of Saint Benedict suggests that those who would deepen their interior spiritual life should listen “carefully” and “with the ear of your heart.” This is what Fr. Dick will be doing during his sabbatical. He is inviting us, as a Parish, to do the same.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Do other clergy go on sabbatical?  

Sabbaticals are a standard requirement for priests in the Diocese of Atlanta in order to provide for renewal for clergy and their Parishes. Language that specifies a sabbatical every six years is put into the standard letter of agreement for priests, including Fr. Dick’s letter. Fr. Dick was eligible on the date of his sixth anniversary with St. Patrick’s (May 23, 2016), but he decided to wait for a year. Now that our youth, children, contemplative and congregational development ministries are developed and funded through 2018, the time of the sabbatical seems good and right for both Fr. Dick and the Parish.

What are Fr. Dick’s sabbatical plans?  

Fr. Dick will be gone from Monday, May 1 until Tuesday, September 5, 2017. His focus will be to develop his capacity to “listen with the ear of his heart” through a routine of daily exercise, study and prayer. Fr. Dick’s plans include a contemplative time at an Episcopal Benedictine monastery (where he first discerned a call to ordained ministry), liturgical ministry on two Sundays at an Episcopal church on the shore of Lake Tahoe, and continuing education at the College of Congregational Development in Spokane, Washington. Meanwhile, he will be connecting with family, friends and places that have been significant to him over the years. For example, he is sailing with his dad in Florida, touring Australia with Anne and his daughters, visiting and perhaps celebrating and preaching at various Parishes that have been important in his formation, and visiting friends and family in various states, including travel to beach and mountain locations.

Who will cover Fr. Dick’s responsibilities during his absence?
For a person taking a sabbatical, it is important to be completely away from daily duties and routines. So during this period, Fr. Dick will not be checking work email or phone messages, coming by the church, or be in contact with parishioners.

During Fr. Dick’s sabbatical, Mother Julia, Senior Warden Alison Forbes and the Vestry will provide leadership for the Parish. Mother Julia will provide primary pastoral, sacramental, and liturgical leadership. Alison Forbes and the Vestry will be responsible for financial and administrative issues that may arise. The Parish Staff will continue to care for their responsibilities with counsel as needed from clergy and Alison Forbes.

Parishioner communication and needs will go to Mother Julia, Senior Warden Alison Forbes, or the appropriate staff person or Vestry member as outlined above. Mother Julia will also help lead the Parish through our listening and continued renewal while Fr. Dick is away.
What about Fr. Dick’s family? 

While Anne and their daughters will be traveling with Fr. Dick during parts of his sabbatical, you also may see them in worship and other Parish activities during this time.

Planning for the Sabbatical:  

The Vestry has planned for Fr. Dick’s compensation during the sabbatical through the operating budget.

Are there important practices for Parishioners while Fr. Dick is away? 

Three primary practices come to the forefront during this time. First, let us fully commit ourselves to listen carefully with our hearts so that we may more clearly hear God, one another, and the world around us, and then “follow Christ as we welcome, nurture, love and feed all God’s children.”

Second, participate in Parish renewal activities as they are developed. Peace, Pajamas and Patrick in August is one parish-wide offering that will focus on holy listening.

Third, support our clergy, staff, and fellow Parishioners as we continue our mission within and outside the Parish. Our Parish growth and outreach are important – they do not take sabbatical with Fr. Dick!
Important Dates to Remember          
April 30                       Fr. Dick’s Sabbatical begins following the  10:30 a.m. service
May 16-May 19          Fr. Dick on Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY
June 16-25                  Fr. Dick at St. John In the Wilderness  Episcopal Church, Glenwood, NV (Lake Tahoe)
July 30-August 5       Fr. Dick at College of Congregational  Development, Spokane, WA
September 10             Fr. Dick’s first Sunday after sabbatical                          

Categories: Parish Life