Father Bruce J. Powers - A Brief Autobiographical Sketch
I was born in Manhattan on November 25, 1947, the first of four children to Joan and Jim Powers. My father was from the Bronx, a Power Memorial high school graduate from New York City and a veteran of the Second World War. My mother was a Queens girl, an Andrew Jackson HS graduate, from Springfield Gardens.My dad worked for Shell Oil company, and after a number of moves within the organization, and from apartment to house, my parents settled in East Norwich and we began worshiping at St. Dominic parish, Oyster Bay.
By 1961, there were three children in the Powers’ family; a brother and a sister joined me-Tod and Beth. A fourth child, my brother Dan, was born in 1966. In 1961 I was accepted into St. Pius X preparatory seminary, Uniondale, New York. I was attracted to the priesthood as a 13-year-old for numerous reasons: the strong faith of my parents; the romantic attraction for a sensitive child to a life dedicated to God; and the mystique of the priesthood in the American Catholic subculture. War veterans like my dad took advantage of the college tuition assistance offered by the G.I. Bill. Catholics began to set their sights high in white-collar employment on an equal footing with the Protestant majority. At first, the seminaries were filled with young man like me who desired to serve the church and to minister to God's people, sacrificing wife and children.
But by the time I graduated high school in 1965, there was a clear indication that Roman Catholics need not set any limits on what they might accomplish. Most of my classmates in high school, College and the major seminary in Huntington New York, left for other career tracks and the strong attraction of marriage and family life.
With the Second Vatican Council ushering in a sea change in every dimension of church life, the role of the parish priest was transformed as well, and became even more challenging. New skills and leadership were needed as the role of the priest shifted from a heavy emphasis on the sacred to the priest as mediator of Christ and builder of the local church community. The newly evolving and multidimensional role of the parish priest called not only for training in academics and spirituality, but also the formation of psychologically mature, well-balanced human beings who were capable of creative imagination and comfortable relating to all kinds of people as a parish leader.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was fond of referring to the dying people that she cared for with such tenderness, as "my people." Love for Christ impelled her on a courageous adventure from her native land of Albania to Indian citizenship and lifetime service as a vowed religious. I too, have learned to love and be loved by the people of God in seven parish communities where I have served for 35 years: St. Anne's, Brentwood; Our Lady of Lourdes, West Islip; Saints Cyril and Methodius, Deer Park; St. Anthony of Padua, East Northport; St. Rose of Lima, Massapequa; St. Elizabeth, Melville; and Saint Patrick, Bay Shore. The people of those communities have written their names in my heart and I will never, ever be the same!
This past June, I began a new adventure at Sts. Peter and Paul parish. I have a feeling that with God’s grace ever present, the best is yet to come!
Through thirty-five years of ministry as a priest, loving and being loved, I have discovered Jesus Christ the Lord, coming to me under a myriad of disguises. And to my awed surprise I have even found myself a symbol of Christ to the people I serve.
I am now thoroughly enjoying my time of service as a pastor to you, the people of Saints Peter and Paul, Manorville. This is a time of great grace for me, a blessing and a privilege. Thank you for allowing me to shepherd you.I am reminded of the words of a wonderful Bishop, Ken Untener, of Saginaw, Michigan. When the time came for him to offer his homily at the Installation Mass, he began with the words "my name is Ken, I will be your waiter."
This seems to capture the meaning of pastoring a people. It seems correct to me, and in continuity with the Last Supper, when Christ, the Son of God, got down on His hands and knees to wash the feet of His disciples. And it is in continuity with our Catholic Church that calls the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, and our universal shepherd, "the servant of the servants of God".
Peace to you, and love –
Father Bruce Powers