Dear Church Family,
Archbishop Perez has asked me to leave St. Raymond and become the Pastor of St. Cecelia Parish in Fox Chase. Later today he will name a priest to be the new pastoral leader of St. Raymond. I know that the information here will not satisfy all of your questions or concerns, but it is an attempt to begin the process of transitioning to new leadership and help you understand what is happening and why it is happening. WATCH MY VIDEO ANNOUNCEMENT.
Some have asked why I am being moved. It is not a punishment to me or to our beloved parish. Archbishop Perez desires to move from a policy where pastors remain at a parish for as long as they desire to a policy by which a pastor serves for a six-year term that may be renewed once (maximum of twelve years in normal circumstances). This arrangement is normal in most of the dioceses of the United States. I am completing fourteen years and so he asked that I accept a new assignment. I was asked to leave St. Raymond (and assume pastoring another parish) twice previously but offered reasons for why that was not desirable and my rationale was accepted. I tried the same this year without success. When ordained, I made a promise of obedience to the bishop. While most think the vow of celibacy is the tough one, in truth obedience is often the greater struggle. I do not want to leave St. Raymond but I have accepted this as the desire of the Archbishop.
In the fourteen years I’ve been here I have sought to build on the vision of my predecessor, Fr. John O’Brien, that the parish belongs to you. I, like he, brought my gifts and talents to St. Raymond, like each of you. Priests come and go but you remain, continuing the essential work of serving the Lord, each other, our neighborhood, and the poor. It was never my parish. It was and is yours and will remain so under the leadership of the new pastor.
I will remain at St. Raymond until Monday, June 20 when I will move to St. Cecelia in Fox Chase. Their current pastor is retiring. In the next four weeks, the staff and I will work with the new priest to provide a smooth transition. He will be provided all the details needed to assume his role and I will propose a One-Year Pastoral Plan to guide his first twelve months so that the good work we have begun might continue for God’s glory and your good. He will become familiar with our history, our culture, and who we seek to be as a parish.
I look forward to a variety of ways for us to say goodbye. We will do that at the Ascension Party after the 10 am Mass on Sunday, May 29th. We will have a “Farewell Cabaret” on Saturday, June 18th from 6 pm to 9 pm. If you’d like to be a part of the team planning these gatherings, contact Minta Brown at the Parish Office (215-549-3760) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m addition, if you’d like some 1:1 time, I’m setting up 15-minute time slots on Calendly (like we did during the COVID shutdown) and we can visit in person at the rectory or over the phone. If you cannot use the links, please call Brandi in our Office (215-549-3760) to set an appointment. At this time, it’s not likely I’ll be able to visit homes or go out for meals as much as I’d enjoy that time. I hope you understand.
In the weeks to come a few projects that were started before I knew I was being reassigned will be completed. The statues of Mary and Joseph as well as our large crucifix will receive a “makeover” that was planned for years but a suitable artist was not found until recently. In addition, the Church lighting will be upgraded in early June once the final supply chain issues are resolved. The new pastor (who will be announced by the Archbishop on Friday afternoon) will lead the parish through the ramp and Church basement renovations we have envisioned and saved for over the past five years.
Pray for me. I am sad to leave. You have taught me how to be a Pastor. I’m not simply changing jobs, I’m leaving my family. It’s painful. But I have faith in God that He will sustain me and continue to work through me and through the new priest for the good of the Church - in Mount Airy and Fox Chase.