For the past four years I have written my weekly “blurb” for our bulletin – always seeking to write something about the Faith which would both instruct and inspire (you be the judge to what degree I succeeded!). As I write this article for the bulletin – my last as your pastor – my heart is filled with many memories and emotions. As a priest who has always had an appreciation for the traditions of our Faith, I was deeply grateful to Bishop Callahan for asking me to be the pastor of Saint James – a parish where the faith of its people and the beauty of its church give ample evidence of a strong love of the Catholic Faith and her traditions.
When Bishop Listecki arrived in our diocese, he cited three areas which he would like to focus on: Catholic identity, evangelization, and stewardship. Having embraced these principles, I resolved that the latter two would naturally flow from the firm establishment of the first. The faithful and reverent celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, Eucharistic Adoration, frequent confession, and a regular devotional life form the foundation of our Catholic identity. We must always rejoice in the great gift which we have in our Catholic Faith! Of its very nature, our Faith must manifest itself in an active, visible way. Our fidelity in the Faith is a key element to evangelization. People are drawn to Goodness, Beauty, and Truth. Our families, and each one of us individually, are called to bring this Good News to the people around us.
Your new pastor, Msgr. Stoetzel, is assuming a difficult task. To care for two parishes is a true challenge. I know him to be a most attentive Pastor. And I know that he will discover what I experienced the past four years: That the people of St. James are generous and supportive. I am sure you’ll give him a warm welcome when he arrives next week.
Finally, let me express my profound gratitude to you, the parishioners of Saint James, whom I have been privileged to serve these past years. I ask God’s and your forgiveness for my shortcomings or any offenses I may have caused anyone in the past. And I ask for your prayers for the future, as I take on my new assignment at St. Michael and Resurrection Parishes in Wausau.
May God bless you!