Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Thank you!" and a Q & A with Father Tim

I would like to offer my sincerest thank you to the people, clergy, and staff of St. Mary’s Church for throwing such a lovely party in my honor on Saturday, December 17.

It was wonderful to have so many of you come out to support me and to share the Eucharistic meal and fellowship time afterward. I’m honored that you came to share this celebration with me.

It has been a long journey, and, as you know from previous blog entries, it has not always been an easy one for me. On some occasions, it appeared that the day would never come. It did, and I think it was awesome!

I want to thank you all for the dedication you put in to making sure all I had to do was to show up! You were (and are) wonderful!

It seems that there are some “frequently asked questions” that I ought to address. So I think it is important that I do so.

What was your favorite part of the service?

My favorite part of the service was when you all said an enthusiastic YES! when Bishop Hayashi asked if it was your will that I be ordained. As per the canons of the Church, had you said no, he would have had to stop the service at that point. If we look at a sacrament as the Church describes it—an outward and visible sign of the grace given to us by God—then you all affirmed and recognized that grace (Holy Orders is one of the seven sacraments of the Church). The bishop was simply upholding your will. Thank you for that!

Why did you lay on the floor?

This is called prostrating. It is an ancient practice during which the ordinand (the person being ordained) gives his or her life to God.

What was going through your mind during the prostration?

A calmness came over me. I had been anxious all morning, and that went away when I lay prostrate. I had a conversation with Jesus Christ. I said, “Well, Jesus, this is it. This is you and me. We’re gonna do this. Thank you for trusting me to be one of your priests. I will try really hard not to let you down. If I do from time to time, I’ll try really hard to make it right.”

What was the singing about?

The Church has an ancient history of singing and chanting. I was a student of liturgy at seminary and my preference is always a sung liturgy. The decision to sing was twofold.
For one thing, I think a sung liturgy is beautiful and it is a different way to honor God. St. Augustine said when we sing, we pray twice.
Secondly, I think I have liturgical gifts, including the ability to chant. I wanted to share my liturgical gifts with you, the people of God. I am hopeful it was a nice experience for you.

Did you cry during the service?

Yes! I cried at several times during the liturgy. I cried during the entrance hymn, during the Nicene Creed, and during the laying on of hands. I have struggled with my own worthiness, and my tears were tears of joy, that even though sometimes I don’t feel worthy, you all said I am worthy, and Jesus Christ has said I am worthy. I felt very loved. I am not ashamed to cry. I think it is a beautiful expression of human emotion. I welcome the tears of others and I hope mine are welcomed by others as well.

What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?

A priest can only do three things that a layperson or deacon cannot do. We call them the ABC’s. A priest can absolve sins (Jesus Christ forgives the sins, but the priest is authorized to proclaim this forgiveness), bless (people and objects), and consecrate the Eucharist.

Ability to perform these duties is not required for someone to be a chaplain or to provide quality pastoral care. They do, however, give me more tools to use in my ministry. I can now hear someone’s private confession at their bedside or celebrate the Eucharist with them. I can also offer them a priestly blessing. I am the only priest in residence at St. Mark’s hospital, which was established by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. The chapel at St. Mark’s is a “peculiar” of the diocese, meaning the Bishop directly oversees the chapel. I am honored to follow in the footsteps of my friend and mentor, Father Lincoln Ure, as the next priest to walk the hospital’s hallways.

There is currently a search for a new Director of Pastoral Care. To qualify for this position, the candidate must be an Episcopal priest and a CPE Supervisor. As I am not a CPE supervisor (this takes at least five more years of training), I am not eligible to apply for this position at this time. I think more experience in chaplaincy (and as a priest!) would have been necessary for me to feel comfortable applying anyhow.

What happens next?

I don’t know exactly. I will be finishing up my residency at St. Mark’s Hospital in May and I will likely do supply work, at St. Mary’s and at other places around the diocese during that time as well.

I have had conversations about my future with various people in the Diocese about chaplaincy opportunities. Although discernment is constant, for now I am exploring a call to chaplaincy rather than parish ministry.

I am one of only a handful of priests in Utah who can speak Spanish, and I am the youngest priest in our diocese. Because of logistics and various obligations, some of the other priests in the diocese are not able to travel as much as I might be, and they may not feel called to serve in that kind of capacity at this stage in their ministry. It all depends on funding and need, but I would very much like to stay in this diocese.

~ The Rev. Tim Yanni

The authors of this blog welcome comments.

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