By Fr. Joe Mallia
Hello! My name is Fr. Joe Mallia (call me Fr. Joe please). As you know, the archbishop has appointed me to be your new pastor. I am grateful for his trust in me and I look forward to getting to know you and hope you are looking forward to getting to know me.
Just a little bit about me as a way of introduction. I was born in Malta, a small European island in the Mediterranean Sea. My family moved to Detroit in 1965 when I was almost 3 and I grew up in Allen Park where I attended St. Frances Cabrini schools. After graduation in 1980, I entered Sacred Heart Seminary and earned my degree in Philosophy. I took a year break and then returned to St. John’s Seminary in Plymouth and earned a MTS. I then took another three years to teach high school, look at religious life and to make sure God was really calling me to be a priest. I then returned to Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners Wisconsin and earned my M. Div. before being ordained.
My first assignment was at St. Joseph in Lake Orion while also serving as chaplain, teacher, director of development and recruitment and track coach at what was then Oakland Catholic High School. Two years later I was assigned to St. Michael in Sterling Hgts. and two years later to St. Martin de Porres in Warren while also serving as chaplain at De La Salle. After just one year, I was assigned as Pastor of St. Kenneth in Plymouth and given responsibility at the new All Saints School in Canton. I served there for just over six years and then was assigned back to my home parish for the next twelve years. My most recent assignment was at St. Augustine in Richmond and Holy Family in Memphis, a cluster of two parishes for the past four years.
I come to you as a priest ready to serve you. I see my role of pastor being one of teaching and guidance. This is your parish, not mine. What good happens here is because you want it to happen. I will guide the process of our mutual growth towards Christ, but the parish is you. I do not come with an agenda. I come with an open heart to learn from you and to pray with you to the glory and praise of our God. Priests come and go, but you remain. So, I promise you that I will work as hard as I can and I will always seek to be a servant to you. That does not mean that I will not make decisions. I will do that because it is my role, but I will listen and take advice from the various leadership groups and from the staff here.
My leadership style is collaborative and pastoral. I have met with every staff member before arriving and I have worked with the Finance Council on the budget. I promise you as I did them, that I will be transparent about why decisions are being made. I will print a quarterly report in the church paper so that you are also aware of how the funds are being used. The Finance Council will have significant input into all financial issues and not simply a rubber stamp. Afterall, they are your representatives and its your money, not mine.
I will be presiding at every mass unless I am out of town or have a previous engagement. We will have mass every day. On Monday, we will have an evening mass at 7. On Tuesday thru Friday, there will be mass at 8 am. The weekend masses will remain the same. I will be in my office Monday thru Friday. I do not take a day off. I do hold evening appointments if necessary, to meet with those who need to meet with me. I will meet with every couple that wants to get married here and every family before a funeral. I will also be moving into the house on the edge of the parking lot that the parish owns so that I can close if I am needed. Some work on the house needed to be done and some furniture needed to be purchased. To be faithful to my personal approach to live a simple life, I asked the parish staff and Finance Council to make decisions about what was purchased. I thank them for taking on that responsibility.
I do try to be fair and to be a pastor to everyone. The danger is that people will try to pigeon hole you as a priest. Always aware of that, I have chosen to not accept invitations to dinner from parishioners. It is not that I want to be rude or that I am not interested, it is just that if I accept one invitation, I have to accept them all and I can’t do that. I strive to be the pastor to every person and every age group and every situation. I will also to at least stop by at events that are happening here at the parish. I also do not socialize with the parish staff. I told them that as well for the same reason. I believe myself to be friendly and open but it was instilled in me from my seminary days not to have particular friendships or to beware of showing favoritism and I have tried to live that out in my life.
Finally, and maybe most importantly to most of you is my liturgical style. I follow what is in the Roman Missal and in the rituals. I try to keep daily mass to about 30 minutes and weekend mass to under an hour, except on those special feasts that require more time to complete. I try to keep my homilies to about 7 minutes and I try to make them educational and relatable to our daily lives. I try to spend about an hour of preparation for every minute I preach on the weekend, because I need to hear myself talk and I don’t want to bore myself or lose interest in what I am saying anymore than you want to hear a boring homily.
I really do look forward to ministering, serving and praying with you. Like every parish, we have work to do in getting people to come back to mass and helping people encounter Christ through the Catholic Church. The work begins today by letting people know that we want to see them back at church. Please invite people to come back. If you get them here, I will try to keep them here but we have to work together to make that happen. You have a wonderful parish but more importantly, we have really Good News to share with people about who Jesus is and what he has revealed to us about the Father. Everyone is welcome to encounter Christ here at St. Kieran and our goal must be to bring Christ to the world. Have a great week and I look forward to meeting you on August 1st or 2nd. God bless you all.