Summary of today’s show: Scot Landry discusses all things Merrimack with Father Arthur “Art” Coyle, Episcopal Vicar for the Merrimack Region. From to Ashby to Salisbury and everywhere in between, Fr Coyle describes the joy of meeting pastors and parishioners and confirming Catholics, young and old.
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1st segment: Scot welcomed everyone and said that today is the one week anniversary of the livestream of The Good Catholic live. For all who wish to watch and participate with questions or comments during the show, go to BostonCatholicLive.com.
Scot welcomed Fr. Arthur Coyle and asked if could share a little about his background and also about his calling to the priesthood. Fr. Coyle said that he grew up close to here and went to the Sacred Heart – Weymouth Parish and School where he was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The idea of becoming a priest stated early as he was taken over by the sisters and the great pastors from Sacred Heart. Fr. Coyle shared that his father died suddenly when he was in the 7th grade and his mother died the same way two years later. He shared that the support and love that poured from the parish and the sisters, as well as his Godparents, helped to strengthen his faith and right after high school he decided to enter the seminary.
Scot asked Fr. Coyle about how he felt when Sacred Heart parish burned out a few years ago. Fr. Coyle said he was devastated. He was baptized, confirmed, his parents funerals were celebrated there, and it burned out on the day of his birthday. Scot noted that the rebuilding was done trying to reconstruct what it used to be before. Fr. Coyle said that they did an amazing job and that it looks superb.
Scot asked what Fr. Coyle’s favorite classes were in the seminary. Fr. Coyle said that he enjoyed English and social sciences, and also the ones on pastoral counseling and the liturgy – but that looking back, all classes we great and very useful.
Scot noted that Fr. Coyle has a great voice for radio and asked if he was involved in the choir while attending the seminary. Fr. Coyle said he was but that he mostly put behind the keyboard. Fr. Coyle also shared that he accompanied The Singing Priests for a while.
Scot asked about his early assignments. Fr. Coyle shared that he first went to Saint Patrick in Brockton where they had a very diverse community and a strong Hispanic community. Scot asked if he preached in Spanish and Fr. Coyle said he didn’t but that he knew enough to participate in the liturgy.
Fr. Coyle said that he also worked with campus ministry both for college and then high school. Scot asked if there many differences between the two and he said there were some but they were able to do some of the same activities including a mission trip to El Salvador with the high school seniors.
Fr. Coyle said that after campus ministry work he went back to doing parish work and continued to work with immigrant communities, after that he worked as the director of the Pastoral institute, then he was asked to work in Central Ministries and in 2008 he was appointed Episcopal Vicar of the Marrimack Valley.
Scot explained that there are 5 Episcopal Vicars in the Archdiocese mainly because of the large size of the archdiocese and it is of tremendous help to the Cardinal. Scot asked Fr. Coyle to explain the duties of a Episcopal Vicar. Fr. Coyle said an Episcopal Vicar represents the Cardinal in their territory, or over a group of people or over a category. They are responsible for parish visitation, which needs to happen formally every 3 years, and sometimes they are delegated by the cardinal to do confirmation and or installation of new pastors, which he himself has been blessed to do over the years.
Scot asked about his experience as he goes around the parishes celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation. Fr. Coyle said it is great and that its an opportunity to set a level for the kids who will live up to it, or even better, surpass it. Scot asked what is the general theme of his confirmation homilies. Fr. Coyle said that he has preached on the witnesses of the disciples and how they were moved by the spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and living the good life of the fruits of the Spirit. He said that in all it’s about the idea of vocation and witnessing.
Scot asked how many visits he makes to a parish per year. Fr. Coyle says that besides the formal visits that needs to happen he tries to visit the parishes in his vicariate twice per year.
Scot asked what happens in a formal visitation. Fr. Coyly shared that he meets with all the members of the staff, then has dinner with the pastor, and after it he has a meeting with the parish councils to discuss worship, faith formation, the talk opens up for good dialogue and they see the areas they need to improve.
Fr. Coyle said that he encourages parishes to talk to other neighboring parishes to learn about best practices. He also said that pastoral planning will help parishes to share more and that what we need is collaboration to improve and innovate because the church cannot have its last 7 words be “But we’ve always done it that way”
Scot recalled that Fr. Coyle has been the one to announce the awards winners at the Cheverus Award for the past 3 years. Fr. Coyle said that it is a great event and very humbling to see the cathedral packed with family generations celebrating together. Scot noted that this year the Cheverus Awar will be November 25th at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.