From The Catholic Witness
Fr. John B. Bateman Jr., new Administrator of Historic St. Mary’s Church . . .
Father Bateman, who returned to the Diocese earlier this month after an eight-month chaplain assignment at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, said he is looking forward to being a parish priest again. Prior to his most recent deployment and a three-month period working in the Diocesan Tribunal last fall, he had served in Rome for three years as Secretary to the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
“It is awesome to be back home,” Father Bateman emphasized. “I’ve looked forward to this for a long time. My past two assignments have been really fantastic opportunities – Rome and the military deployment – but I am a parish priest at heart; that’s where I belong.
He said he spent some time adjusting to the “new normal” brought on by the pandemic, and was quarantined for 14 days after his arrival from the air base.
He missed being a parish priest, and his brother priests while away, he said.
“It truly is where my passion lies – serving the people of God in a parish. So I’ve missed that these four-plus years. But I’ve also missed my brother priests. There is a special bond between priests – a true brotherhood,” Father Bateman said. “We, in Harrisburg, have long been known for our priestly fraternity and I have missed it. I’m very blessed, and very grateful, that the priests in my Emmaus Group made it a point to keep in close contact all these years – we spoke every single week via social media – and as the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, we spoke twice a week. It was a great consolation to remain connected with my brother priests in this way.”
As administrator at Historic St. Mary’s in Lancaster, Father Bateman said he will be responsible to “keep the ship going forward,” making no innovations or major changes, and that he “looks forward to being with people in the Sacramental moments of their lives.”