This week I start my fourth year at Mary, Queen of Apostles Parish. I am so grateful to God and to the Cardinal for sending me here. In the seminary, I remember a professor saying to us as we got closer to ordination, “Gentlemen, whatever God wants, the Cardinal will tell you.” He was of course referring to the fact that for the last 32 years and counting, I have served at the pleasure of the Cardinal in whatever capacity he has seen fit for me, and God’s will is mysteriously part of all of it. It offers some freedom to be able to do and go wherever you are sent, knowing that with your “five loaves and two fish,” God will work through you, and hopefully along with the Gospel be an instrument of His Grace and proclaim the Gospel. In our case, healing and hospitality will be part of our call as we try to welcome the alienated, the marginalized, and those who do not know Jesus and what he has done for us in life death and resurrection.
The staff and I have been working throughout the summer to get ready to be a church that is both traditional (i.e., with gathering for worship in a safe space), and one that is online reaching those who are infirm, elderly or just frightened to be part of a large gathering for fear of COVID-19. We will be ready, and we will continue to work within the limits and challenges that we have. I am confident that all we offer to the Lord, and through announcing the kingdom of God, it will bear fruit now and into the future. We can already see the effects of our work and I am humbled by the generosity and love of the people of the parish who are supportive in many ways by stepping forward to help during this pandemic with their time, talent, and treasure. I wrote in my last general letter sent out to all our parishioners that we jokingly could call ourselves “St. Pivot” because we have been able to respond to this crisis by responding to the many and quick changes called for by the federal, state, and local governments, and the Archdiocese. I believe that we are fortunate we have continued to be able to pray, proclaim, and support so many people directly and remotely in this time. It is in part due to the cooperation and generosity of many.
Our staff, although very small, has been responding to the changes and challenges with great creativity and courage. I am also very pleased that our leadership group has emerged as a great help also. It has resulted in this being one of my favorite assignments I have ever had, despite the many and serious challenges.
This past June, I had hoped to attend a conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia with Margo, and a few parish leaders. The conference is called “Divine Renovation.” It encourages parishes to work with the concepts and ideas of what a successful pastor named Fr. James Mallon did in his parish. For the last eighteen months, we have been trying to develop the principles of this “renovation” in our parish. Essentially, we are calling for people to become better disciples and leaders in the parish. The leadership of the parish means not so much “being in charge” of something, rather to be people who lead others to Jesus Christ. This is our mission. It is the reason we exist and continue. It is our WHY. Although our what(s) and how(s) have changed ( i.e., where and when we pray), our mission is to still offer to Jesus our loaves and fishes and let Him help us to multiply our catch. I hope you will stay tuned and informed as we continue to move forward, and I ask for your prayers in this coming year.