I can’t believe it! After eleven years of writing these “Ramblings” this is my last one! (I don’t like it)!!
I remember reading Fr. Bill’s last column when I took over here at these two great parishes. He wrote about all the great things that were accomplished during the two years he was pastor here, and I have to say I feel a similar temptation to talk all about the things that have happened here over the past eleven years. But I will refrain from that with one or two exceptions.
When I came to St. John’s and St. Joseph’s I said in my very first homily that I wanted to teach more about our faith, and secondly, I wanted to instill a greater love for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. I hope and pray that those things were accomplished to some degree.
With all the Apologetics and Scripture Classes, along with some educational component to homilies, I hope that many people have a greater understanding and appreciation for our faith.
More importantly is the love for Christ in the Eucharist. When I came here to these parishes, we had 5 or 6 regulars at the weekday Masses. Today we are easily into the 40’s and at times get as many as 50 or more.
I will say this, of all that has happened here during my eleven years that is what I am most proud of!!
A parish can be judged more for what happens during the weekday than what happens on the weekends. And by God’s grace things are going well here.
It is with a very heavy heart that I pass the baton to Fr. Drew. When a pastor has been in a place as long as I have been here, it becomes very difficult to say good bye. What I have told more than a few people who express sadness at my departure is that they are losing their priest, but their priest is losing everything. A pastor’s life should be his parish, and that is what you all are to me, and yet God has other plans (as does the bishop), and I entrust myself to God’s providence.
It is my hope that from time to time you take a drive out to St. James in West Duluth. It is exactly eleven miles from my garage to St. James and most of that is highway, so it’s really not that far to come say hi.
I love being here, I love you as my parishioners, and I know that will never change. I am very grateful that I am still in Duluth. So this is not as much as a goodbye, as it is “I will see you around.”
I am convinced Fr. Drew will be a great fit for these great parishes and I know that you will all grow from his ministry. All priests bring a different set of gifts to their ministry. It was very clear to me by how much kitchen stuff he has brought into the rectory that he and I are indeed different!
I hope that as many of you as possible can come to the gatherings we are having in the event of my departure. This Sunday, July 1, Mass at St. Joseph’s will not be at its regular time, but at 12 noon with a lunch afterwards. My last weekend will be next week, July 7th & 8th. There will be a gathering after the Saturday evening Mass in the parish hall for a light dinner, and then again after the 10:30 Mass. I hope you will take advantage of one of these three options.
Thank you for eleven blessed years!! (Fr. Rich)