Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Well, I guess you are stuck with us priests for another year! This past weekend all the clergy assignments were published for 2014-15 and St. Mary, by God’s grace and the good will of Bishop Loverde, will remain unchanged for this year. For a complete list of the clergy changes in the diocese, you can look at the diocesan webpage, www.arlingtondiocese.org.
But the rumors were sure flying. They do every year, I guess, but each year it does become more possible that I would be moved. I have to admit I was anxious. But I was also troubled by the level of anxiety in peoples’ voices when we spoke of the possibility. You see, this is how the Church works. We go where we are sent and are lucky when we have a bishop whose collaborative spirit looks at the parish and discerns what is best for the parish at a particular time. The fact is, there are other parishes with needs, too, and there is nothing unhealthier than a community who forms around a personality: that would be the definition of a cult, I think. I haven’t done my job if you haven’t been formed and affirmed in your Spirit as a community, and you aren’t confident in your call to serve.
This is your greatest strength: you have discovered that you belong to God, and his Church, and God has given us this place in time to live fully in relationship with him, and with one another in charity and service. I can recall the parish when there was no awareness on the part of the assembly that their role was to participate in Mass. There was no awareness on the part of the members that their contribution as volunteers in service mattered. Having awakened, you now live that life in community, reverently and respectfully, and respond to however God is calling you to fulfill the mission of this local church. You do it so beautifully. You have nothing to fear. I’m so grateful that I have been able to work among you as your ‘father’ to help nurture this profound development. You are a community beautiful in your varied expressions and you must never forget it. I was thinking all these things as we waited for news about assignments. I feel very blessed to still be here with you.
We have so much to do. Watch this summer as many new ministries unfold which have been in their infancy for a couple of years. Our Parish Health Ministry is new and waiting for you to let us help you. Called and Gifted is on the horizon, a process by which all of us will be invited to discern how God has gifted us as unique individuals with special ways to serve him and his family–and to use them! We have grown so much in our opportunities for education, both in the religious education of our young but also in the ways in which we can engage adults who hunger for continued formation. We will focus this year on the question, “How do parents get what they need to be good parents?” None of us can give what we don’t have, and we renew our commitment to partner with our parents in growing in the faith. And we continue to deepen our social commitment to the community in new and exciting ways. (And, I promise, I will go back to work and finally get those paintings in the church done!)
This weekend we honor all of our dads, whose involvement in our lives has brought us to this day. Their commitment requires ours; today we pray in thanksgiving for their lives, their dedication and guidance. For their many sacrifices, most of which we probably never even saw, we thank them and remember them in prayer.
We also ask God to raise up in our culture a strong understanding and commitment to Fatherhood. Families are still the backbone of culture and Fathers and Mothers are all needed to give good example and teach values to us as we go forward. Let this be our prayer today, to God our Father in heaven.
May God bless you.