Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Thanks for a great picnic! We had a great day and a record turnout. The food was great, the music was beautiful, and despite the heat it wasn’t humid and a wonderful breeze prevailed all afternoon. I’m glad so many came out to Holy Cross Academy to experience our big parish family event of the year.
Thanks to our Knights of Columbus, our Council of Catholic Women, our school PTO and volunteers of all parish ministries who came together to give us such a beautiful afternoon together. I smiled every time reading the announcement for the Parish Picnic and Family Fun Day because few probably know the back story any more. When I came here in October 2002, it was just as the regional sniper shootings were taking place, remember? That year the Knights canceled the Parish Picnic, which was then a separate event from the HCA Family Fun Day at the end of the school year. When we came to the spring in 2003, it just seemed normal to begin combining the two, as a sign of parish unity between school and parish, something that we needed to intentionally promote in those days. Today Holy Cross Academy is an integral part of our parish life and we are so grateful to the Oblate Sisters and all our school teachers and staff for their sacrifices in caring for our parish children. Of all the blessings I’ve known here at Saint Mary, that school is one of the greatest and I have come to know our Sisters as if they were my sisters. Always cherish their presence here, and care for them. And pray for vocations. Like Bishop Keating, I had promised them numerous vocations from Saint Mary while here, and I didn’t come through! Keep praying for them and their beautiful order of Sisters, for young women who are brave and can become holy community leaders to help shepherd God’s children.
This week we offer special thanks to Fr. Lino and his years at Saint Mary, and wish him joy. Father, may God continue to bless your ministry.
Last weekend was rough, as we announced the changes. I appreciate the outpouring of love and good will, and will miss this place like no other before in my life. It was true when I said that I’ve never “attached” to a place as I have done here. I feel as though I’m leaving home. We’ve shared a lot of life—good things and bad, fireworks and construction, baptisms, weddings and funerals— and I am grateful for your letting me be a part of your family. Such a great parish—and now it is up to you and Father Mosimann to carry it forward. Don’t leave it up to someone else to make your home a place where you want to be.
There is a message in all of this for you young people, too—graduates, even young adults. Take care of your interior life, your heart with God. Don’t leave the direction of your life up to chance, or to strangers. They don’t know you, and probably don’t know what is good for you. The world is confused. Spend some time each day working on your relationship with Jesus. We have a family, we gather with God regularly and come together in celebration and service, and in the process we come to know who we are. We are formed on the rock of Christ’s Church, an we have encountered God in so many ways. New life comes only from him. There is no need to drift away, or to decide for some reason that it all doesn’t matter. It does, very much. I hope by now you know that you always have a home here. I plan to be around, now and then, to rely on roots that I have found in Fredericksburg.
I have watched you change over these years from a parish that was preoccupied with self to a family who looks outward and transforms even the community around you. The community loves Saint Mary and knows us as authentic partners in prayer and service, in Christ’s name. Continue to be a light to Fredericksburg.
There are two main themes we have returned to repeatedly: mercy and discipleship. Approach every person in reverence for God who made them, whose imprint they bear, act both as he would act in you toward others and, encountering them, how you would approach him in them with awe. Together, go out use your authentic gifts and serve Christ in every person, and let them know that it is Christ in you who serves them. In this way we are not only living the Gospel, we are the living Gospel.
Remember: God uses all things to stretch our hearts to be able to love more. I have felt so loved here at Saint Mary, it is now time to love your new pastor even more.
God bless you.