Life continued to be quite hectic in San Diego and Sal found himself drifting more and more away from the life that he had known as a parish priest. He did not love the church any less than the day of his ordination, but life and his role in it had been altered. He harbored no resentment or regret but found that the rules and narrow passage could no longer be where he spends the rest of his days. It was not an easy choice, and there were troublesome feelings because he knew this decision would be harmful to some who believed in him. The temptation to find a way to stay was quite strong, but it was the wrong decision, and he would be only a shell of what he hoped to be.
Having decided to leave the active ministry Sal returned to New Jersey and made an appointment to see the Archbishop. The irony of this meeting is that despite the fact that the Most Reverend Thomas A.Boland was most conservative and he most progressive there was a bond of friendship between them. He was always especially kind to Sal, perhaps because the pastor in Sal’s original church was his immediate aid. In the meeting he actually pleaded with Sal to take more time before asking to be released. His kindness moved Sal.but not to the point that he could reverse the decision that he had spent months on reviewing.He did not know it at the time, and at the end of our conversation he graciously gave his blessing but he denied the request.
Sal felt after returning to San Diego quite relieved and knew that it was time to start making plans for the future. His years in Westbury were treasures of the heart, and he would not trade them for fame or fortune. He would ever be grateful for all that transpired in those five years. Despite the shedding of the collar the need to serve and find meaning were still vibrant and compelling. Frankl’s words and more important his modeling were a blend of the Sermon on the Mount and Existentialism. There was a peace in his soul that he had not known for months.