For Msgr. Charles Parry – pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Rockville, Maryland, who this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of his ordination – being a priest “has been an absolute and complete privilege and joy.”

“It is an honor and a privilege leading the people of God of the Archdiocese of Washington to the Kingdom of Heaven,” he said. “At the same time, it is a tremendous and sacred responsibility to lead the people to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Throughout his four decades of priestly ministry, Msgr. Parry said he discovered that “each parish I’ve been in has been rich beyond belief in kindness and goodness because the people of this archdiocese are extraordinary.”

Msgr. Parry also said that what has helped throughout his ministry is making a Holy Hour every day.

“When you are priest in your 20s and 30s, you are full of energy and zest for the right things. When you are a priest in your 40s and 50s, you are still full of energy and zest, but you now have experience,” he said. “I am in my 60s, and I still have zest and I have experience, but God in His glory has called me to a more contemplative experience – a Holy Hour every day.”

“Everything proceeds from that – Mass, Confession, caring for the people,” Msgr. Parry said. “What comes from that is a powerhouse of grace that is necessary for the work of the day.”

Msgr. Parry is a native of Washington who was raised in Beltsville, Maryland. After graduating from High Point High School in Beltsville in 1973, he enrolled in St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Scranton, also in Pennsylvania.

After earning a degree in philosophy in 1977, the future priest attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he completed his master’s degree in theology in 1981. He was ordained that year by then-Archbishop James Hickey.

Early in his priesthood, he served as a parochial vicar at the following Maryland parishes: St. Peter Parish in Waldorf, St. Joseph Parish in Beltsville and St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Riverdale Park.

In 1991, he received his licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America.

From 1992 until 2002, Msgr. Parish served as the archdiocesan assistant secretary for Catholic education. In 2000, he was named parochial administrator and then pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie, Maryland. During that time, he regularly taught at St. Pius X Regional School, also in Bowie.

In a 2010 interview with the Catholic Standard, Msgr. Parry said, “I love teaching in the school. The students see you in a different way… You are not at the altar, far from them. You are right there with them, passing on the faith.”

“It’s exhausting but I love it,” Msgr. Parry said in that interview. “Those young people are worth every bit of my time and energy.”

Msgr. Parry served at Sacred Heart until his 2017 appointment as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Rockville.

“In every place and in every assignment, I have met wonderful people,” he said. “I am so rich because I have met wonderful, practicing Catholic people who are prayerful, have a wonderful sense of the Eucharist, who confess their sins beautifully and who are generous to a fault.”

Outside of his parish ministry, previously he was the dean of the Middle Prince George’s County Deanery; chaplain to the Sacred Heart Council of the Knights of Columbus; a member of the Board of Directors of Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, and episcopal vicar for Prince George’s County. He was named a monsignor in 2007.

In addition to the many responsibilities he has taken on over the years, Msgr. Parry said that he particularly enjoys visiting the sick and homebound because “I can bring the Church directly to them in their home. It is humbling when I pull into someone’s driveway to think that they open their home to me because I bring the presence of Christ Jesus into their home.”

For many years, he directed the annual Archdiocese of Washington’s annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He was also the program chairman for the archdiocesan “Convocation 2000: Christ Calls His People” in 1998 and “Eucharistic Congress 2000: Christ Feeds His People” in 1999. Both events were designed to prepare the faithful for the advent of the Third Christian Millennium.

“In all the things I have been asked to do … Almighty God has given me the grace to do what I needed to do,” Msgr. Parry said. “There has always been an abundance of grace, and for that I give glory to Almighty God.”