A full congregation of parishioners and family members gathered Sept. 10 for a Mass at which Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., installed Father Michael T. McClane as the new pastor of Holy Eucharist Parish, Tabernacle.
PHOTO GALLERY: Father McClane installed as pastor of Holy Eucharist Parish
“I have been so honored and humbled by your welcome to me over these last couple of months,” said Father McClane, who arrived at the southern Burlington County parish July 1, when Father Andrew J. Jamieson retired after serving as pastor for more than 20 years. “I thank you for your spirit of openness and hospitality.”
‘Love One Another’
The Mass was celebrated the day before the world commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, so the Prayers of the Faithful included prayers for those who lost their lives and were injured, as well as for first responders.
Father McClane also spoke of the 9/11 events during his homily. Referring to a reading from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, he spoke of the call to love one another and put others' needs ahead of personal needs. He developed his point by giving historical examples of people showing their love for others, such as the firefighters charging into the burning World Trade Center; St. Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life for another man in Auschwitz; and the members of the Ulma family, beatified in Poland Sept. 10. The family was murdered by the Nazis in 1944 for sheltering a Jewish family for 18 months.
“They risked their lives for the sake of others,” Father McClane said of them all. “They lived that heroic example of charity, of literally giving their lives for others.”
Look for God in the Ordinary
“Inspired by Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, we are capable of achieving great things,” Father McClane said. He said that while some people are called to perform heroic deeds, love for others is not usually lived out in the heroic acts of the martyr, of the firefighter.
“It is more often lived in small ways,” such as how people carry out their ordinary responsibilities in their families or workplaces, in their prayer life and through their actions — being present or offering words of encouragement to someone in need.
“We love one another in ordinary ways because that is how God often comes to us. Not usually in the spectacle of stunning displays of power or miraculous apparitions, but in ordinariness,” said Father McClane. “God appears under the appearance of ordinary things. Jesus appears as a regular man with regular parents, living in a regular community. Jesus had a regular job as a carpenter. He ate, slept, had emotions, did all the things we all did. He appears under the ordinary appearance of bread and wine, in a worship space with many simple symbols, a table covered with a cloth, with candles.
“We don’t want to miss him in that ordinariness,” he said.
Father McClane said that since his arrival at Holy Eucharist Parish, he has observed that “love one another” is lived out “in a spirit of community and as a family.” He cited examples such as the parish’s large greeter ministry and the many programs geared for children and to accommodate the needs of families. He also mentioned parish programs designed to reach inactive Catholics and others in the community “who are looking for a church and want to encounter God" as well as programs "to make their experience of Church attractive and inspiring."
“Let us share God’s love with others in ordinary ways, building up their spirit, letting them know that God exists, he loves them and wants to be a part of their lives,” Father McClane said.
Michael McClane was born in 1979 and grew up in Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Park Ridge, in the Archdiocese of Newark. He studied history at Princeton University and, while there, he became involved in the Opus Dei Center and the Aquinas Institute, which fostered his vocation to the priesthood. He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., where he studied philosophy before pursuing further studies in the Pontifical North American College, Rome.
He was ordained a priest May 20, 2006. As parochial vicar, he served in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, and St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, New Egypt. Prior to becoming pastor of Holy Eucharist, he was pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, and St. Paul Parish, Princeton; and served as parochial vicar of St. Dominic Parish, Brick.
Having pursued advanced studies in canon law at The Catholic University of America, Washington, Father McClane has held various positions in the diocesan Chancery, including serving as vice chancellor and defender of the bond.
When Bishop O’Connell arrived as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese in June 2010, Father McClane was selected to be his secretary and master of ceremonies and, in the diocesan Tribunal, he served as assistant judicial vicar.
From the People
Staff members Barbara Sentner, the SAFE Environment coordinator and professional database coordinator, and Jessica Garrett, communications coordinator, were happy to witness the installation of a pastor for the first time. Highlights of the installation included the reading of the official letter that Bishop O’Connell wrote to Father McClane appointing him as pastor; the formal introduction of parish clergy, staff, trustees and parish finance council members to Father McClane; and Father McClane's reading his Oath of Office as pastor.
“It was very moving, and it’s good to have Father officially installed,” said Sentner. In working with him, she has observed that Father McClane is a very good listener, very caring and has a compassionate heart.
“He always says thank you,” she said.
Garrett described Father McClane as “very open and receptive to our community."
“He is a priest, but it’s the parish that makes him a pastor,” she said. “We look forward to working with him.”
“We love Father McClane already,” longtime parishioner Denise Panico said, smiling.
Bishop John C. Reiss established Holy Eucharist Parish in 1982. The parish began as a group of people meeting in a room at the Tabernacle middle school. Today, Mass and parish events are celebrated in a 36,600 square-foot building that serves as the spiritual home to 2,816 registered families.