Greetings in Christ! I have some good news to share with you! Bishop O’Connell has named me pastor of our parish, effective this weekend, Palm Sunday, April 14th, 2019. For about nine months now, I have been the Administrator of our parish, which while carrying the same managerial responsibilities for our church and school, does not have the ring nor the same canonical privileges as being your Pastor. I am very grateful to our Bishop for his confidence and look forward to a long tenure as the shepherd of the flock here in Maple Shade. Looks like I am going to need some Eagles gear ;-)
The letter was dated March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is common practice among Catholics to date significant letters and documents with special feasts of our liturgical and devotional life. These moments which the Church commemorates mark or flavor the message. Our Bishop has bridged salvation history in one letter, composing it on the day that Mary received the announcement from Gabriel that she would give birth to a Son, Jesus, and making effective the appointment on the Palm or Passion Sunday, a very solemn day within Lent when we remember both Jesus’ triumphant reception into Jerusalem and his Passion and Death on the Golgotha.
Joy and agony, triumph and suffering all buttress the reality that I am now your pastor. Makes sense... a pastor shares in the good and bad times of his people. He accompanies the community through all the events of life. He celebrates baptisms, first communions, weddings, and confirmation, but also birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. A pastor also visits and comforts the sick, buries the dead and comforts those mourning. He extends a listening ear and compassionate heart to those suffering loneliness, depression, marital difficulties, and whatever other crosses his people are asked to carry. Yes, pastoring runs the gamut between tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
As your new pastor, I ask for your prayers, love and support. For me, this is a daunting task. I promise you my prayers, love and support. I promise to be at the helm in the midst of the storm, and, as Pope Francis likes to say, “to have the smell of the sheep!” (Said I would need some new Eagles gear, didn’t I?)
We are together on the road, the disciple’s road. It is a road that leads to Calvary, but beyond the horizon awaits the luminous promise of eternal life!
Make it a great Holy Week!!