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Date Posted: March 22, 2019

Sabbatical Plans: A Heads Up

One of the particularities of parish priesthood is the dynamic of a sabbatical, an intentional time of rest, renewal, and study that the Church expects us to take. After six years in a particular parish, each full-time priest is allowed to take a three-month sabbatical break. Traditionally, there is a focused point of study as well as time to rest and breathe. Even as I write this, I am aware that my wife is a full-time teacher with a need to rest as well! Teachers have summer, but even that is a shorter time than it was when I was a kid. Given the privilege that it is to have this time, sabbatical periods are structured and focused, and we are held accountable to make sure our time is well spent.

Since I was at St. Benedict’s for five and half years, I left before my sabbatical time. So, after almost twelve years of parish work, I am setting my eyes on a sabbatical; however, the dynamics of our community around campaigns and development need to be taken into account. I want to be responsible with my use of time, so I am going to structure my time in a way that respects our common life. I shared with the vestry that, rather than take a three-month block of time, I will take an additional month off each year for the next three years. This will give me space to adjust my schedule with the youth pilgrimage, with campaign meetings, with summer, and with family schedules. By taking a month off, I can have the rest I need while also being available in a way that does not provoke anxiety.

For this year, I will slip away mid-May to mid-June. I plan on reading, writing, and resting, and I will finish editing a book that will be published by Crossroad Publishing Company on September 1: Contemplation and Community: A Gathering of Fresh Voices for a Living Tradition. I am also working on another book that is a collection of essays and letters to our daughter focusing on simplicity, the practice of faith, and compassion.

Since I invited Cynthia to join the staff in 2014, our sabbatical times come quite close to each other. Looking ahead, she will take a three-month sabbatical beginning in July 2020. By planning this far ahead, she will be able to research areas to focus on. It will give her needed time to rest and re-ground.

Even though I am looking forward to having time to rest, I shared with Reba that I am pinched by the reality that sabbaticals are luxuries. I come from a blue-collar family, and my father has worked for forty years in a paper mill without ever having a sabbatical. So, I want you to know that I don’t take this for granted, and I promise to use my time to rest so that I can be even more present to you when I return.

Fr. Stuart