The priest has been at the Dayton parish a little while, but Bishop Stika made his position official
By Dan McWilliams
Although he had been appointed to lead the parish in October 2020, Father Jim Vick had never been installed as pastor of St. Bridget in Dayton until Bishop Richard F. Stika took care of that detail on Jan. 29.
The bishop did the honors, taking oaths from both Father Vick and the assembly in the pews, to make the priest officially the pastor of the 200-family parish.
“It was a nice little ceremony, and the people enjoyed it,” Father Vick said afterward.
To begin his homily, Bishop Stika told a story about St. Teresa of Kolkata, inspired by the day’s second reading on love from 1 Corinthians 13. The bishop remarked that St. Teresa was not that tall, then glanced at Father Vick, who is not among the tallest priests in the diocese, as St. Bridget parishioners laughed.
“I wasn’t even thinking of that,” Bishop Stika said, smiling.
Mother Teresa once saw a woman dying in the gutter, the bishop said. The woman said to the future saint, “I don’t want your help. You will make me a Christian.” Mother Teresa said, “I want to help you.” The woman said, “Why do you want to help me? What is the name of your God?” Mother Teresa said, “The name of my God is love.”
“That’s how she spent her entire life,” Bishop Stika said. “I’ve always spoken that we should always be the face and the hands and the voice of Jesus’ heart. That should be the guiding principle of what a Christian is all about . . . It’s all about the love of God, that God so loved the world that He sent His only son, so that we might know that love.”
Love “is one of those unpredictable things in terms of humanity, right?” the bishop said.
“I mean, I love Diet Pepsi and White Castle hamburgers. I say that, but is it really love? Or I love my St. Louis Cardinals. We all say that. We take this beautiful word, this powerful word, and sometimes we use it in all kinds of different situations,” he noted.
Love influenced his priestly call, Bishop Stika said.
“Once a young man asked me, how do you know you were called to the priesthood? I said, because I felt the love of Jesus calling me to the priesthood,” he said.
The bishop learned about love from a talk with a disabled veteran, he added.
“When I asked this particular individual (why he served), he told me it was because he had love for his buds, his friends. He was willing to lay down his life to protect a whole group of individuals,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Vick also has that same love, the bishop said.
“I commend to all of you because I know Father Jim has loved the people he has been called to serve,” he said. “And he does that, he gives his life to you. And then you have a love for the Church. That’s why you’re here on a cold Saturday night—the love of Jesus, the love of the sacraments, the love of the Eucharist.”
The pastor installation followed the homily.
“So, we have this little ceremony where Father is going to make a pledge of fidelity to the Church. I’m going to ask him if he’s going to pray for you and celebrate the sacraments, and I’m going to ask you if you’re willing to continue to pray for him,” Bishop Stika said. “And when Father celebrates the sacraments, he does so in the person of Christ. There are these two phrases that translate into English—he’s in the person of Christ and another Christ. He doesn’t celebrate the sacraments because of who he is, but when he raises that host and that chalice, he becomes Christ as well as the sacrifice, which is Christ. He says, ‘This is my body. This is my blood, given for you.’ God is love, and we celebrate that love today.”
Father Vick in the installation rite gave “yes” answers to the following questions from his bishop: “Are you willing to continue to proclaim the Word of God in the tradition of the Apostles, compassionately and with faithfulness, to the people trusted to your care? Are you willing to celebrate the sacraments of the Church, and thus nourish and sustain your brothers and sisters in body and spirit? Are you willing to continue to guide, counsel, and cooperate with the people of St. Bridget’s in the work of building up the Church and in the work of service to all who are in need?”
The assembly, in turn, also answered in the affirmative as the bishop asked questions of them: “Are you willing to hear with open ears and open hearts the Word of God as it is proclaimed to you all? Are you willing to encourage and support Father in his responsibility to lead you in prayer, nourish your faith, and especially to celebrate with you the Lord’s sacrifice of the Mass? Are you willing to cooperate with him as he exercises the service of pastor, enabling this community of St. Bridget’s to grow in the light of the Gospel?”
The bishop then led the assembly in the proclamation of the faith, and Father Vick took an oath of fidelity. The signing of the official documents of installation followed, with Dianne Pfeiffer and cantor Bill Ward serving as witnesses.
“I give you your new pastor, even though you’re used to him,” the bishop said, to a round of applause.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Stika thanked parishioners “for all you do, for all the things you do for St. Bridget’s, for Father Jim. Thank you for all the special collections. We took up a second collection for the people whose lives were affected (by tornadoes) in Kentucky, and through the generosity of this diocese I was able to send almost $76,000 to that diocese, which was so decimated, especially the city of Mayfield. We also took up a collection a few weeks before for the people of Haiti, which is always devastated, and that was another $60,000. The people of this diocese are so generous.”
The bishop gave “a special word of thanks to Father Vick,” who holds a dentist’s doctorate, calling him “Rev. Dr. Father Vick.”
“He’s always a happy man. He’s very happy. That means something’s in his heart that’s happy,” Bishop Stika said. “He loves the priesthood. I’m always grateful to our priests but especially tonight to Father Vick, for what he does for you, the people of God, and for what he does for me as the bishop as I travel through the diocese.”