As I write this, I am just seven and a half days from moving from my current assignment as the Parochial Vicar at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in western Livingston County to St. Mary’s of the Lake in Watkins Glen and St. Benedict’s in Odessa where I will serve as the Parochial Administrator. St. Luke’s where I have served for the last two years includes five churches. That means this past weekend began the goodbye Masses that will continue this coming weekend.
As I say goodbye some people express that they are sad that I am leaving. While I do not want anyone to be sad, it is affirming to me to know they are sad that I am leaving. This means they like me. The bottom line is that I want to do God’s Will but, in my humanity, I am happy to hear that people feel they have grown through my ministry.
As I say goodbye people ask me if I am getting excited. The simple answer is yes. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be the leader of a parish again. However, with that comes more responsibility. I embrace the responsibility but, nonetheless, it does come with some pressure. Please pray that I always do what God wants. Please pray that I lead in a way that is inviting and leads the parishioners closer to God.
I also look forward to being much closer to my dad. Yet, it will be different serving in a parish where I was a parishioner. I did not attend Mass after I was confirmed at the age 12 for sixteen years. St. Mary’s/St. Ben’s is the parish I attended when I returned to church. It is the parish where the seed of faith that God had planted in me grew and began to flourish. I became involved in many ways. St. Benedict’s is the church where I lectored for the first time. While I was scheduled to be trained as a lector, this was a complete surprise when no lector showed up. I was very nervous but God was very much present in that moment for me. St. Mary’s is the church where I presided at Mass for the first time. St. Mary’s is also the place where I presided at a funeral for the first time. St. Benedict’s is the church where I presided at a Sunday Mass for the second time. These are just some of the memories. Of course, there are many other memories, including memories of individual parishioners. Some of them have since gone home to God. Many others are still parishioners. I also know that there are new parishioners.
Returning to the question, “Am I excited for the change?,” it will be a relief in that for almost three months my mind and heart have been in both places. I have done my best to remain faithful to my duties and ministries at St. Luke’s while also beginning to get connected to life and ministry at St. Mary’s/St. Ben’s. Please don’t misunderstand this. I will miss St. Luke’s but it will be good to focus my heart, mind, and soul in one place.
Adding to the challenges of the transition from one assignment to the next, there is also all that goes on with the Coronavirus. The good news is things are getting much better. The number of new infections is down greatly. Thanks be to God and for the people that God led to develop the vaccines (and thank you to all the medical workers who worked, and continue to work, hard to care for the sick). However, I have to admit that the last two months have been the hardest for me personally during the Coronavirus. I have not gotten sick. As I far as I know I have never been exposed and I am now fully vaccinated. So what’s been hard? The constant change in precautions and understanding what the current precautions are. I know it is a good thing that precautions are being eased. The changes just don’t always come in a way that makes sense or is clear.
So, now I look forward to a few quiet days before the move. I still have Masses to say but most things are wrapped up at St. Luke’s for me. There will be more goodbyes this coming weekend but there should also be some needed rest.
I look forward to seeing the people at St. Mary’s/St. Ben’s I know from the past and getting to know the new people. I look forward to becoming familiar with the current ministries of the parish. I look forward to working with the parishioners and staff that we may fulfill God’s plan for them. I look forward to helping people grow in their relationship with God. I will continue to write here and I want to continue to offer presentations to help people grow in their faith. I ask you to pray that I am led by the Holy Spirit to know how to best offer the presentations in a way that is best for the parishioners of St. Mary’s/St. Ben’s and still be able to share the presentations on my website. This ministry is a great passion for me.
As I make this transition and I ask you to pray for me, please also pray for both St. Luke’s that I leave and St. Mary’s/St. Ben’s where I go. Please pray for all parishes that face transition in the coming days. Pray that God’s will be done.