Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Hopefully, when you are reading this, the weather is nice and we are all enjoying our annual picnic & Redemptorist Day. We also decided to use this day to celebrate my anniversaries. This year marks two milestones for me (three if you count turning double-nickels in September). I am celebrating 30 years as a Redemptorists and 25 years as a priest. When I look back over those years I have certainly done things and been places that I would have never imagined. On the top of that list has to be becoming pastor of "The Rock." Seventeen of those years have been spent here at the corner of Cook & Grand (or should I say Ed Nutt & Grand). That's almost 70% of my time as a priest, and I can't think of a place where I would rather be. You have all had a profound effect on my life, especially my spiritual life, and for that I am eternally (literally) grateful.
I have shared before that the one thing that really worried me when I thought about becoming a priest was having to preach, and I'm sure some of my family and friends thought the same thing. Then in 1983, I went to Northern Ireland for the first time to be part of an international group that worked with the children during the summer. There had been a long list of American volunteers in the program. At that time I was a much shyer individual, and I was affectionately referred to as the only American that did not hug. And I won't even mention my two left feet and lack of rhythm. If they could only see me now.
As I said, you have changed my life in many ways, great and small. I cannot imagine my life, especially my priestly life, without "The Rock" being part of it. It would have certainly had less joy in it. You have supported me during some personal trials, and you have accepted and shown mercy to my faults and failings.
As I look to the future, and the parish's upcoming anniversary, I have high hopes. It is good to pause now and then to reflect on where we have come from and all our God has done for us, all of the blessings, as well as, the trials and tribulations our Lord has seen us through, but it is more important that we put our hands to the plow and focus our gaze on the road ahead of us. As great as our past has been, I believe our God is calling us to even greater things. Our community is hungry for the Good News, it is in desperate need of mercy and reconciliation. It needs to know that there is a better Way, and we, my sisters and brothers, are being called to proclaim that very Good News.
P.S. While it is Br. Terry's golden jubilee (50 years) we have elected to celebrate his anniversary on October 29th, when his family can join us. Br. Terry hates a fuss, and even more so if he is in the middle of it, but you might just want to say thank you to him. He too has spent most of his Redemptorist life here at The Rock, and has done an untold amount of work here, often unseen. So be sure to save that date.