Just as we are winding down our holiday celebrations and settling into the new year, our parish community will also be bidding farewell — albeit temporarily — to Fr. Butler. On Jan. 7, Fr. Butler leaves us for two and a half months. He will be spending time in Rome on a sabbatical.
“It will be a time of study and rest and prayer,” Fr. Butler says. “But don’t worry, I will be back! You’re just giving me up for Lent!”
Chuckling through his Lenten quip, Fr. Butler says he is very excited for the time in Rome and even more excited to come back to St. John the Baptist refreshed and full of more fire for the vocation to which God has called him.
“Priests need a break from active ministry every so often,” Fr. Butler says. “What we do gives us rarely a day off, and that can be draining after a while. So the Church, in her wisdom, allows priests to take a sabbatical after 15 years of priestly service.”
This is Fr. Butler’s time!
“The purpose of a sabbatical is for rest,” he says. “But it is also required that we study while we are on it, and, of course, pray.”
And Fr. Butler is thrilled for the opportunity and time to do all three in the “eternal city”.
“Rome is the center of our faith in many ways because the martyrdom of Peter and Paul took place there,” he says. “Being there has the potential to strengthen one’s faith tremendously. And I am looking forward to the experience.”
Fr. Butler has been to Rome a few times before, but this trip has such an intentional focus that he is sure he will return to us a better priest and pastor!
He will be staying at a retreat center near the North American College in Rome. From there, he and other fellow priests will take classes at the North American College daily. They will cover a wide array of topics including Scripture, Tradition, Mary, the Church, morality, and much more. After enjoying lunch with the seminarians at the North American College, Father and his brother priests will have free time to explore the city. There are many places Fr. Butler is excited to visit, tours he looks forward to, and pilgrimages he hopes to travel.
“There are so many saints whom I love whose birthplaces are in or around Italy, and I am planning to see many of them,” he says. “Also, I hope to see the sites of many Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions. I hope to go to Lisieux to visit the birthplace of St. Therese and maybe even see the Shroud of Turin.”
Indeed, it promises to be a full and faith-filled trip for Fr. Butler, and he asks that we pray for him while he is there.
“As always, I need your prayers,” Fr. Butler says. “I hope to come back a better pastor, refreshed and more capable of serving the people of St. John the Baptist however God needs me to.”
And while he is gone, Fr. David Vogel will be at the helm.
“He will be here to serve the parishioners in whatever ways they need him,” Fr. Butler says. “He will say Masses and offer Confessions. He will do our Stations of the Cross every Friday in Lent, and he will hold the Children’s Adoration before Easter. He will be here to serve the people, and I am so grateful he has agreed to help.”
So as Fr. Butler embarks on his sabbatical, may we be sure to welcome Fr. Vogel with open arms, praying for both priests as they serve the Lord in a manner outside of their daily routine.
Fr. Butler will return to us on March 25 — right in time for Easter!
Our parish will certainly miss Fr. Butler greatly. Remember to pray for God’s blessings upon him on his travels.