Father Brendan Buckler was installed as pastor of St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Church in Boone and Church of the Epiphany Mission in Blowing Rock by Bishop Peter Jugis during a special bilingual mass Sept. 1.
Prior to his assignment in Boone, Buckler served as pastor of Mother of Mercy Church in Washington for four years. Originally from Atlanta, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Raleigh in 2011. Buckler moved to Western North Carolina to be closer to his father.
At the start of the installation Mass, Deacon Lee Levenson of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Jefferson read the official letter from Bishop Jugis appointing Buckler as pastor. At the altar and in front of the congregation, Buckler then made a public profession of faith and oath of fidelity to the church. Then he signed the official documents of his office, witnessed by Levenson and Michael Camilleri, a college seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte and a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Church.
Jugis’ homily for the installation mass focused on the three areas of responsibility a pastor has to his parishioners: teaching, sanctifying and governing.
“There is so much to do (as a pastor),” he explained.
As the primary teacher at his parish, a pastor is in charge of overseeing all of the catechetical work of the parish, including faith formation classes, RCIA and any efforts to teach and explain the Catholic faith.
“The pastor is ultimately responsible for the proclamation of the word of God and the propagation of the faith,” the bishop noted.
A visible sign of this teaching office, he pointed out, is demonstrated during the installation mass when the pastor himself proclaims the gospel.
An equally important part of a pastor’s ministry is providing the sacraments to his parishioners, to sanctify them with God’s grace, he said. “The pastor’s mission is you — his mission is to make sure that you are sanctified and on the path to salvation.”
Parish governance is a third aspect of the pastor’s ministry — that is, knowing the people of the parish and sharing in their concerns and anxieties, the bishop said. A pastor is to make sure that the parish runs smoothly and that everyone is working together.
These three offices of a pastor, Jugis explained, ultimately derive from Jesus — Jesus, the teacher; Jesus, the sanctifier; and Jesus, the head of the church.
After the homily, Jugis showed Father Buckler the places around the church where he will exercise important aspects of his ministry. The bishop first pointed out the front door of the church, telling Buckler to keep it open at opportune times so that the faithful can worship and be in the presence of Jesus. The front door is also important, he said, as that is where Buckler is to greet parishioners to encourage them as they go out into the world.
The baptismal font, he also explained, is the place where the pastor will bring new souls into the kingdom of God through baptism. The confessional is important as that is where he will bring souls back to friendship with God by showing them the mercy of God. From the presider’s chair, he will lead the people of God in prayer and worship. Finally, the altar is the place where he will offer the sacrifice of the mass and bring the people of the parish to Jesus.
At the end of the mass, Buckler thanked the bishop for joining the parish for the special occasion and asked everyone to pray for the bishop.