He's back! Yes, we are very happy that Fr. Charlie McCoy, C.S.C., Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Portland, has signed up for another year posting on Spes Unica. (To read some of Fr. Charlie's insightful past post, look under the "Education" label.) With his first post of this new year, Fr. Charlie picks up right where he left off -- leading us on deep reflections about what it means to be a priest, religious, and professor. Enjoy!
When I replied that they paid me the same salary they'd pay any professor, some eyebrows in the group went up, as if to say, "But what about your vow of poverty?" I explained that the salary of every Holy Cross religious went directly to the Province to take care of all of our needs, including the seminarians who are studying and the retired priests and brothers who no longer work.
While doing my research, I lived at Old College, our undergraduate seminary. It was a "win-win" situation, because I got to stay within a five minute walk of the math department, and I served as an older presence in the house, while Fr. Steve Lacroix, the Director of Old College, assisted for the month at our parish in Austin, TX. Part of my responsibilities included domestic concerns like looking out for maintenance problems, shopping for the house, and providing the Old Collegians on campus with a regular schedule for prayer and Mass (and an occasional trip out for ice cream).
What does the vow of celibacy really entail for a religious priest? In some sense, it certainly does "free us for the Kingdom": when the Provincial asked me almost three years ago to move from South Bend, IN to Portland, OR, I didn't have to think about the move's impact on a wife or kids, so it was much easier for me to say yes.
But our vow of celibacy doesn't free us at all from adult responsibilities or human connections. As I think about being a "breadwinner" for my C.S.C. family, and taking "the kids" out for ice cream, and suffering with the reality of an aging loved one, it becomes clearer to me that the vocations of father and Father aren't as different as I once had thought.