July 15, 2012
Kudos to Vatican II, which shaped his priesthood
He is: Father Richard Homa, pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Orland Hills. Former pastor of St. Julie Billiart, Tinley Park, and former pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Palos Hills. Ordained in 1973 at Mundelein Seminary. He joined with Father William O’Mara and Father Edward Upton in 1998 to build the Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School that serves four parishes in the Southwest suburbs.
Family life: He is the eldest of five boys and two girls. “My youngest sister is 18 years younger than I am. It’s like two families. We grew up about a block and a half from St. Constance Church on the Northwest Side. I was an altar server for the Latin Mass and in the boys choir.
“My father worked in an office for Westinghouse Electric for many years, in the electric generating motors division. Mother took care of the family and worked part time later on. Both were very involved in the parish.
“My grandfather came from Poland in 1905, the oldest of 14. He worked his way across the ocean with a fourth-grade education and settled down and built a family. The name was Choma — but at Ellis Island he dropped the ‘C’ because it’s silent in Polish.”
Vocation: “Our freshman year at Quigley was when Quigley South opened. At the two Quigleys, in 1961, there were 650 freshman boys; 38 of us got ordained. We were riding on the crest of the Second Vatican Council in the seminary and into priesthood. It was an expansive time and exciting, building up parish staffs at a time when there were lots of Catholic people in their 30s and 40s who were interested in parish life.
“There are a good number of pastors around my age who have been very much in tune with what Vatican II had to talk about in terms of collegiality, subsidiarity, and consensus decision-making — parish life in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. We’ve tried throughout our priesthood to put it in place at our parishes.
“In all three parishes where I served as pastor, I’ve told the people we do this as much by consensus and collegiality as possible, working together.
“And then subsidiarity — because there’s some parish decisions I don’t want to make and should not make. It’s not up to me to decide what color poinsettias will be in church on Christmas. The parish is the people. We’re there to facilitate their spiritual journey.”
Prayer life: “I never went on sabbatical. I feel nourished by spiritual reading and belonging to a monthly priests’ prayer group. In terms of Scripture and spirituality, anything that Jack Shea’s written I think is fantastic. I know he’s kind of left of center, but I consider John Dominick Crossan a friend of mine. Every time he writes a new book I get a signed first edition.”
Leisure: “We have a priests’ group that skis in Colorado every winter. In between times we solve all the church’s problems, too! The core has been getting together for 30-35 years.
“I always have novels going — historical and science fiction. I enjoy Stephen Kings’ books. I get into the long stuff, a whole series, like Robert Jordan’s, ‘Wheel of Time.’ I’m currently reading a David Weber science fiction series that actually sets itself on a planet where the history of this people unfolds very much like the history of Europe on earth and they have a church much in line with the unfolding of our own church history. That’s an interesting series.
“Right now I have a cat, because its former owners declared it persona non grata when he destroyed a section of new wood flooring. This was a rescue cat of a family of big golfers, and because he had a second chance they named him Mulligan.”
Favorite Scripture verse: “Jn 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.’ What Martin Luther called the whole Gospel in a nutshell.”