Dear Friends in Christ,
Well, I knew the day would come only it is sooner than I thought. I have received notification from the chancery that Cardinal DiNardo has appointed Fr. Richard to serve as the Director of Spiritual Formation at St. Mary’s Seminary. I must confess that I am little bit ambivalent about this. While I hate to see Fr. Richard leave our parish, I am very pleased for him and the seminary. I know that he will do a great job in forming future priests to serve the Church. Fr. Richard is an extremely talented man and I know that those many talents will be put to great use at the seminary. Now to the question that I know has formed in your mind, ‘Will St. John Vianney Parish be receiving a replacement?’ That is a good question. At this point I do not know. As is now the reality, our archdiocese does not have a sufficient number of priests to serve all of the parishes adequately. We have had a number of deaths and retirements of priests in the last year and an insufficient number of ordinations to make up for the losses. We have a number of priests working well past their retirement age of 75. It speaks well of their dedication and zeal but we know they can’t go on forever. We will have to wait and see and pray. Because of the unique nature of Fr. Richard’s new assignment to the seminary, he will be moving earlier than normal. He is to report to the seminary on May 1. If we are able to receive another priest, it will not likely be before July. Please keep praying for more priestly vocations.
I will have more to say on this later, but I would like to acknowledge how grateful I am for Fr. Richard’s generous priestly ministry here at St. John Vianney. He is a talented and gifted priest and we have been fortunate to have him serve us in this parish. He has been a good housemate, and I know Fr. Chuck and I will miss him (and his cooking skills!). We wish him every good wish and offer him the continued assurance of our prayers as he continues to serve Our Lord and the Church.
Now to other things. How is your Lent going? Even though we got off to a rocky start on Ash Wednesday with the winter storm, I hope you are able to dedicate yourself to Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. We have been through a lot and we are not the only ones. This time of struggle is a reminder and an invitation to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. It is a time to refocus. We have had a year of constant reminders of how fragile our human existence is. We have all been brutalized by the constant drumbeat of warnings as to how susceptible our bodies are to sickness, disease and death. While true, Our Lord teaches us that our souls are actually more important than our bodies. If we have taken such drastic measures out of concern for our mortal bodies, how much more so should we be caring for our immortal souls?
We normally begin Lent with the ominous reminder ‘Remember that you art dust and unto dust you shall return!’ That was true even before COVID. Vaccine or no vaccine, every human person, including you and me, will have to face our own mortality. Then what? As disciples of Jesus, we place our hope in Him. If we live with the Lord here in this life, we shall reign with Him in the next. What are you doing to grow in holiness this Lent? Take some time, slow down and pray more. Quiet and still your minds, hearts and bodies. Let the gentle voice of the Lord resound in you. Take a few moments each day and give your cares to God and receive the comfort of His love for you. Make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Pray your rosary. Read and meditate on the Scriptures. Come to a daily Mass or the Stations of the Cross. Come and pray the Liturgy of the Hours at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Come to confession. Pray for a loved one. Pray for our parish. Pray for those who are struggling, lost or afraid. Tell God that you love Him every day and thank Him for His blessings. Hug your kids and kiss your spouse and ask them to pray with you and for you.
Have a Happy Easter by having a holy Lent!
In pace Christi,