from U.S. Catholic
Many priests can become bogged down with everything that needs to be done to keep a parish running. So when you’re also busy attending or presiding at national conferences or joining interfaith prayer services on the steps of the Capitol, it’s understandable to think that some parish priorities might fall by the wayside. That’s not the case for Msgr. Ray East, who was found answering the other end of the parish line himself when U.S. Catholic called to inquire about an interview.
East always thought that he would become a priest and serve as a missionary in Africa, as his father had been born while his grandparents served on a mission in South Africa. “We grew up knowing that, as a family, we were called to continue the mission,” East says. His vision lasted until a mentoring pastor pointed out he could do just as much positive work in the United States as he could in Africa. “I thought about that a lot,” East recalls. “I said, ’OK.’ So that’s how I decided on diocesan priesthood.”
And the decision has paid off. As the pastor of Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church on the southeast side of Washington, East has used this calling to cultivate a vibrant parish life. The energy and enthusiasm East possesses for his ministry and his community are contagious.
“The skills that I would have needed as a missionary in Africa, I need every day just to do pastoral ministry right at home,” he says. “That’s been a great discovery.”…