Dear parishioners and friends,
This coming Tuesday, August 31st, marks the 36th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood along with nine other men. And although it was a glorious day, I’m sure that none of us could ever have imagined what the church and priesthood would look like just a little over three decades later. It has indeed changed and evolved. And through it all, I believe the Holy Spirit is very much at work, as she always is. One clear revelation of this occurred last Saturday. Knowing that I would not return in time for the Mass on Saturday afternoon, August 21st, because of a family wedding in Chicago, I had made arrangements for another priest to preside. As 4:00 approached and there was no priest on the horizon, our pastoral associate, Gayle Castellani began to implement a plan set down by the Diocese to be used in case of emergencies when a community of faith has gathered for liturgy and no priest is present. She followed that plan to the letter. Ernie and Kate beautifully provided music for the service, our Lector proclaimed the Word of God and Gayle led the congregation in prayer. Most importantly, with the assistance of two other extraordinary ministers, they shared the Eucharist (which was on reserve in our Tabernacle from a previous Mass), with those who were gathered. Granted this was not Mass as we know it on a regular basis, but under these extraordinary circumstances the people of God were able to hear the Word of the Lord and to receive His precious body in the Eucharist. While I do not look for this to become a regular occurrence, I am so proud to be pastor of a parish where I know that church goes on, sacraments are celebrated, and people gather, recognizing the presence of Jesus Christ, even in the unlikely event that a priest cannot be present. This truly is what church is all about! Thirty-six years ago, situations such as this one was almost incomprehensible. Today, however, we know that we must be prepared for a church that continues to change. The shortage of clergy, because of so many factors, continues to be a sobering reality. Please continue to pray for vocations. And never stop praying for the beautiful God-given ministers in our church who are not ordained, but who bring Jesus nonetheless!
Love, Fr. Andrew