Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Holistic holiness

Holy Family priest takes an integrated approach to ministry

July 26, 2007

The Rev. Pat Riley believes in treating the complete person.

If a person is sick, he looks out for their spiritual and psychological wellness in addition to their physical problems, he said.

"I don't like to think you can only focus on one aspect of people," he said.

In his college seminary, his studies focused on psychology. He uses what he learned in school to apply what he calls a "holistic" approach to holiness.

"It's important to understand where people come from or are coming from," he said.

Riley brought the same approach to Eudora.

He began his stint last week as a priest-in-residence at Holy Family Catholic Church. His arrival marks the first time the parish has had a full-time priest in more than three years. Previously, Sister Marcella Schrant was in residence and the Rev. Thomas Hesse conducted services in Eudora after driving in from LeCompton.

"I'm excited to be in residence," Riley said.

Having a priest living in the community can be advantageous to a parish, he said. The presence could make the parish more alive, he said.

"When people need someone, there's someone here," he said.

Riley was ordained as a priest in 1981. His first experience in his vocation came under the guidance of former Holy Family priest the Rev. Paul Miller.

Riley wasn't sure if he wanted to be a priest at first, he said.

"He told me I should go to the seminary and think about being a priest, so that started the whole process," Riley said.

Riley learned in a high school seminary in Kansas City, Kan., before attending college at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.

In his time as a priest, Riley has led parishes as small as 32 families and as large 1,300, he said.

Rileys prepares for his homilies and services in the same way each week.

Every Tuesday, he reads the Scriptures included for the week as part of the Catholic Church's liturgical cycle.

He spends the next day or so praying about what he's read and by Thursday he begins organizing his notes, he said.

After organizing his thoughts, he practices until the 5 p.m. mass on Saturdays.

"I think preparation and practice and knowledge are important for a successful homily and to preside over a mass," Riley said.

He came to Eudora after spending three months on sabbatical with the Holy Sisters of Mercy in Michigan.

"It's like a long-term retreat," Riley said.

He also took a holistic approach to his sabbatical in that he focused on refreshing his physical, mental and spiritual links to his vocation.

Now that he's arrived, Riley said he planned to spend a month getting to know the parishioners and settling in at his new position.

In addition to a new priest, visitors to the Holy Family rectory will see a new pet.

Riley brought along his 7-year-old dog, Sydney.

"Her lifestyle is pretty much eating and sitting on the couch," Riley said.

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