On October 10, 2021, I will begin my 21st year of service at St. Catherine Laboure. I came here after spending 19 years at St. Vincent’s parish in the near southside of St. Louis. At the time of leaving St. Vincent’s, I was more aware of what I was losing than what, in this move to SCL, I was being given. Understandable.
Long pastorates 19 and 20 years are unusual in the archdiocese of St. Louis. All things being equal new blood, new ideas, new enthusiasm benefits a parish. But these times bring some peculiar challenges, we have fewer and fewer priests, especially we Vincentians.
In my first homily at SCL I asked you to accept me as I am, a sinner, yet one called to lead and serve. You did accept me, what a great gift you gave me, I will always be grateful.
A parish priest first and most important task is to love his people. My ability to grow in this love was dependent on God’s love and yours. I hope that I can claim that I have tried to reciprocate the love that I was so freely given. I know that I have grown as a person a Vincentian and a priest here at SCL, you have been God’s instruments of grace for me. Again, my profound thanks.
I have been willing to lead and to bear the weight of that. I have not always accomplished this well, and for those lapses I ask your forgiveness. I have, with many others on staff learned to lead well to God be the praise.
SCL is and always has been a vibrant, faith filled, compassionate, family-oriented community of believers. What a gift for me to be called to become a part of this goodness. In appreciation of this I promise my continued service and love.
What of the future? Some of which God alone knows. The Vincentians are committed to continue to staff, lead, and serve here into the future. We will be here as we have been since things began on November 1, 1953, we will soon mark 68 years. May God grant us many more. I will continue as pastor this year at least, and then hopefully mentor a younger Vincentian who will then accept the role of Pastor when appointed by our Provincial and the Archbishop.
The pandemic has and continues to cause privation, anxiety, fear, and anger. I have tried to hold our center together over these last 18 months. I have tried to keep your health and safety my primary concern. I asked your generous support of our families with children as we made our campus save for the church, a single use asset for our Day school and PSR. It proved to be a powerfully good choice especially for our children. It required sacrifice and generosity which you so willingly gave. At the same time, not all agreed with or appreciated my approach. And along with the pandemic we also were embroiled in last year’s election with is polarization and hatred. I have mourned the loss of some parishioners who have left our parish worship and life. I think clearly expressing a negative judgment of my leadership and approach. Their absence is a loss for us and an occasion of profound sadness for me.
So as I begin my 21st year of service on October 10 I ask for your continued prayers, your counsel, your support and your forbearance and your love. May God continue to bring forth is us graced growth and ongoing conversion. May SCL continue to be a good parish getting better; to God be the praise.