Father McPartland, left, and Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., greet members of Father McPartland's family following the installation Mass Oct. 26. John Batkowski photos
Father McPartland, left, and Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., greet members of Father McPartland's family following the installation Mass Oct. 26. John Batkowski photos
" There was a moment in the installation ritual when the Bishop asked me to lead the people in [reciting] the Creed ... "

It’s been five months since Father Patrick McPartland arrived as pastor of St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel, and in that time, he has been busy familiarizing himself with his parishioners and the faith community. But it wasn’t until his Oct. 26 installation by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., that he gained greater perspective on what it means to be a pastor.

PHOTO GALLERY: Father McPartland installed as pastor of St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel

“There was a moment in the installation ritual when the Bishop asked me to lead the people in [reciting] the Creed. That was a very pastoral moment,” he said, because it was then “I was leading the people in the belief of our faith. I fully realized my role is to lead them to Jesus, which should be my number one priority.”

Father McPartland’s formal installation took place during a Mass celebrated by Bishop O’Connell and concelebrated by a number of priests from the Diocese, including Father Joseph Jakub, parish parochial vicar.

Father McPartland explained that the parish is composed of 2,900 families with 1,000 children in the religious education program and 88 children in the preschool program. He said the parishioners are very generous in terms of supporting various causes. For example, he said, the parish collected $14,000 for a water project in Tanzania, and another $5,000 for the World Mission Sunday collection in October. Support is also strong for the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference, which assists between 40 to 60 families each month.

“I’ve been impressed at the great commitment the parishioners have in serving the needs of others,” he said.

Among the priorities he has in mind for the immediate future are finding ways to reach the young adult population and engage them in the life of the parish.

“We need to evangelize young families,” he said, expressing concern about the low number of young adults who are active in their faith. “We need to put energy and resources toward a generation we are losing.”

One project Father McPartland has already implemented to motivate young adults to continue practicing their faith, especially those who are heading off to college for the first time, was a "Spiritual Boot Camp." The goal of the event was to provide high school graduates and college students guidance on how to have a faithful, balanced and healthy college experience. The inspiration for the Spiritual Boot Camps, he noted, was based on the many years he spent as a youth minister and high school chaplain, as well as having spent the past six years as a chaplain in the Navy, including three years at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. During that time, he worked primarily with 18-to-25-year-olds, many of whom did not practice their faith.

Before entering the seminary, Father McPartland worked as an engineer. That background, as well as his previous assignments as a priest and chaplain, served him well in preparing for the role of a pastor, especially in areas of best business practices, finance and learning how to care for people. He extended appreciation to area pastors who he has turned to for advice and direction in running a parish.

Another ministry goal of Father McPartland is to strengthen the offerings for families as well as the men of the parish.

Finding ways to help families make their faith a priority is a concern, he said, and as far as the men, “We need to let them know how important they are in their families and in the parish.”

Father McPartland said he sees serving as a pastor as a “great opportunity to grow into the type of man and the type of priest the Lord wants me to be.

“It’s exciting,” he said, adding that he looks forward to “the Lord teaching me and the people teaching me what they need me to be” in order to best serve the parish.