QA: Shinnick makes plans for St. Leo the Great Catholic Church

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Where are originally from?

I&8217;m originally from Rhode Island, then Massachusetts. I attended college at what used to be the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which is now Carnegie Melon University. Then I went to law school at Notre Dame.

I was married for 31 years, and I have four children, three boys: Mike, Dan and Dave, and one daughter, Kathleen. The oldest boy, Mike, he&8217;s married to Mindy and they have Andrew who will seven at Christmastime in a few months. Dan, the second boy, is getting married on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The third boy, David, is married and he and his wife Maureen have Kelly, Matthew, Danny and Molly. My daughter is married to George and thus far they do not have children. That&8217;s me and the family.

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My wife passed away in Nov.of 1998, after 31 years of marriage. She passed away from congestive heart failure.

How did you come to this position in Demopolis?

A number of years ago, when my wife passed away, my daughter was in her junior year of college and I waited until she graduated before I approached the bishop and asked if he would permit me to go to seminary with the intention of becoming a priest.

Seminary is four years, and I commenced seminary in 2001 and finished in 2005. I was ordained a priest on June 4, 2005. My first assignment was in Huntsville at Holy Spirit Parrish. My second assignment was in Birmingham at Our Lady of Sorrows. This is my third assignment at St. Leo the Great and the other parishes in Livingston and Eutaw and Greensboro.

Have you always been a part of the Catholic Church?

Yes. I&8217;m a &8220;cradle Catholic,&8221; is what they call it.

Has a smaller, more rural area been a big change from your last assignment?

It really isn&8217;t that much of a change. People are people whether they live in big cities or smaller communities. I think it is probably easier to get to know people as a priest as it might be in some other role.

The people here in Demopolis have been extremely friendly and outgoing and made me feel right at home. I&8217;m very happy and content with that.

How long have you been at St. Leo&8217;s?

Since July 1. The way the diocese works is the priests who are going to be moving or changing all do that on the same day, which is usually July 1. I don&8217;t dare say always, but for the most part it is July 1.

Did you get a chance to come visit the church beforehand and meet with Father Michael?

Yes. Father Michael was very kind and introduced me to a number of people in the parish and I got to know some of the people before moving here.

Has the parish responded well to you so far?

I think parishioners recognize their priest as someone who has been ordained by God to provide the sacrament for them. Whether his name is Father Michael or Father Larry is not really that important. I&8217;ve felt very warm welcome by the parishioners.

Do you have any kind of plans for any programs or projects in the church?

One of the things people have asked for, which we&8217;re going to implement starting Wednesday, Sept. 12, is to host a program that will explain the Catholic religion. We&8217;ll do that in several successive Wednesday evenings for anyone who might be interested in learning about Catholic beliefs. Sometimes you find there is a lot of misinformation or things that are misunderstood. That&8217;s true whether you are Catholic or not Catholic. The culture we live in is changing very rapidly. Sometimes people think that the church must change dogma or doctrine just to keep up with society. That just isn&8217;t the church&8217;s role. The church&8217;s role is to provide aid for the members of the church to be holy so that when the time comes for them to pass for their reward, that they will be prepared and ready and enjoy the experience. We&8217;re going to talk about some contemporary issues like evolution and just some of the signs of the times. What we think we will begin with is a little bit of a statement that would indicate the church&8217;s position and how the church got to that position and whether that position is changing or is pretty firm. But the idea would be to start with some statement of the church and then invite questions and break up into small groups so there can be further discussion.

Are you looking forward to the program?

Sure. When you like people and you recognize how hungry people are for truth and if you&8217;re graced with confidence that you have the truth about matters that are important, then it is a real delight to be with people.