Fr. Patrick Cogan, S.A., effective February 3, 2013, is the new pastor of Christ the Redeemer parish. Fr. Kenneth Cienik, S.A. was also appointed Parochial Vicar on the same date, joining Fr. Arthur Johnson, S.A. on staff. The three Atonement Friars are all classmates from Graymoor. Former Pastor, Fr. C. Donald Howard, S.A. officially left the Friars Residence in Herndon this past weekend and is now in his new home in Washington DC.
Fr. Pat's "first" week at the parish began with the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation as Pope, effective February 28th citing the need for someone in better health and strength to serve in the Petrine Ministry. With Fr. Howard's recent departure, this is a sentiment that many from the Christ the Redeemer parish can understand. Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II chose to remain in the papal office despite his waning health, offering to the faithful an image of the Church as obedient even to suffering and ultimately his death. Pope Benedict XVI chose a different but equally valid route, showing us an aging and sensible Church, whose leader must retire to make way for his successor.
It is somewhat unfortunate that this comes at a time when the faithful are preparing to enter into the Lenten season: a time of reflection, deepening conversion and preparation for renewing baptismal vows celebrating this new and eternal life at Easter. The familiar rites and rituals of Ash Wednesday, Stations of the Cross, Confessions, and Holy Week along with the Rites belonging to the Catechumenate (Rite of Election, Scrutinies) and the Easter Triduum will be mixed with internal and external fascination with the gathering Conclave and the process of Papal Succession.
But perhaps this is also a fortuitous event, since it will allow for the Church to further submit its reflection upon this “Year of Faith”asking of itself again the questions of who we are and where we are going. Ultimately, we find those answers by following the Lenten journey in the footsteps of Christ, the shadow of the Cross he takes up, and the light of the Easter Vigil. In the secular world that is always busy with many things and rather fastidious with facts and details, it might well take note that Pope Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope. The Church awaits the 266th, but that is also to say we’ve had some experience with all of this, just as we experience the deep conversion of Lent and the joy of Easter.