Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ad Multos Annos, Fr. Pasley

Today, the priests of the Diocese of Camden along with the parishioners of Mater Ecclesiae Roman Catholic Church, among other friends, gather to celebrate the silver jubilee of Fr. Robert C. Pasley, KHS. High Mass will be celebrated at 11am, followed by Solemn Vespers at 3pm with many clergy in attendance.

Father Pasley was born in Woodbury, NJ and attended Catholic elementary schools and a public high school, where a fine choral director brought him into contact with some of the great works of sacred music. After high school, he attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD and upon completion of studies in 1982 was ordained for the Diocese of Camden. In the late 1990's he also earned an MA in Education from Seton Hall University.

Father Pasley is a member of the Latin Liturgy Association and the Church Music Association of America, for whom he served as Vice-President until 2005. He is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and an Equestrian Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. In addition to serving as a parish priest, he has also worked as a teacher and vice-principal in some of the diocese's Catholic high schools.

In October of 2000, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio appointed Pasley the rector of Mater Ecclesiae chapel, which was formed out of an already-existing Traditional Mass community that had recently been reconciled to the diocese. This was the first diocesan parish in the USA to offer exclusively the Traditional Mass. During his tenure, membership has grown from 70 families to more than 400 (as of April 2005), and significant improvements have been made to the parish's infrastructure. Under Fr. Pasley's leadership, the liturgy has flourished at Mater Ecclesiae, and his commitment to sacred music is second to none. In addition, Mater Ecclesiae has not been content to exist on the fringes of the Church's life; this parish takes part in diocesan activities and is an important source of charity for many in the community. One parishioner once remarked that Fr. Pasley is incredibly consistent at making good decisions. This great gift has been a wonderful asset to Mater Ecclesiae.

There is something very essential about the way that Fr. Pasley has approached his work: He has conformed his life to the mystery of the Lord's Cross. Surely this is what sustained him in those difficult years after the II Vatican Council. He completely empties himself in his work, giving every ounce of energy that he has. He says three Masses every weekend with confessions and catechetical classes in between; he has no help from an associate rector. Despite a busy schedule, he set aside time last fall to be available to those in the congregation who desired to learn the various chants of the Mass. He is the only priest that I know personally who has done this. In addition, he's not afraid to say what needs to be said and teaches the fullness of the faith from the pulpit. He's very good at sifting out the "noise" that surrounds many issues and sticking to what the Church teaches. He doesn't strive for Shakespearean eloquence in his sermons; nevertheless they shine with the splendor of truth. Most importantly, he is a humble man with the heart and mind of a servant. For him, being a priest is not a career, it is a way of life--a vocation.

Clearly, the Lord has accomplished much through Fr. Pasley, and all of us who know him are blessed for it in ways that he may never know. Fr. Pasley, may you have many more years, and "may God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment."

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