The diverse population of Corpus Christi Church has found a new spiritual leader in Rev. Malcolm J. Burns, who took over as the parish’s pastor earlier this year.
Burns comes to Mineola after 12 years at Church of the Resurrection in Farmingville, the only parish in all of Suffolk County that had three English, one Portuguese and one Spanish service. Corpus Christi mirrors that, offering five English services, along with one Portuguese and one Spanish mass. That diversity in languages and culture is a gift, Burns said, and representative of the worldwide Catholic church.
Growing up as one of six children in Huntington, Burns said it was the good relationship between his parents that spurred him on to consider priesthood.
“I think of the fidelity my mom and dad had, and the relationship they had made me think of being faithful to Jesus and the priesthood,” said Burns.
While he grew up in a Catholic family, attending St. Patrick’s in Huntington, he said his family was surprised at his decision to become a priest, as they expected him to one day get married, have children and go into the workforce. But his family supported his choice.
“They were happy for me,” he said. “They taught me to be a person of prayer and when you’re a person of prayer, God guides you in whatever vocation you choose.”
Burns has been leading the Corpus Christi flock for about three months and says he’s been welcomed by the committed members of the parish.
“So far I’ve found it wonderful,” he said. “People have been embracing me in all three language groups. It seems like a wonderful parish that’s been committed to the church for many years; we have 50- to 60-year parishioners.”
Over the next few months, he’s looking forward to meeting with parishioners and learning from them the direction they want to take the church in the future. Burns said he is hoping to bring younger families back into the parish, many of whom left after the closing of Corpus Christi School in 2010. He also wants to continue to reinforce the idea that though there may be multiple services, there is still one Corpus Christi Church.
“It’s not three parishes, it’s one parish with three different cultural groups,” said Burns. “It’s one parish that we’re all trying to work together to build up God’s kingdom in Mineola.”