As you receive this email I will hopefully be settling into my new role as Pastor of St. Cecilia. I promise that I plan to take some down time this week to rest, process my many emotions and read the many, many cards given to me by the Church and School community. The transition from Mount Airy to Fox Chase will not happen quickly and I am not sure how I am going to celebrate Sunday Mass in 55 minutes so...pray for me!
Thank you, St. Raymond, for making me a Pastor. Thank you for teaching me how to sacrifice myself for you and the needs of others. Thank you for teaching me to love in a way I had not really known possible. Thank you for loving me, encouraging me, forgiving me, being patient with me, forgiving me again, sharing life with me, listening to me, laughing at my jokes (sometimes), hugging me, teaching me to clap, inspiring me, and teaching me about the long struggle of the African-American people. Thank you for making want to be a better man and better priest, for striving for holiness with me and for just being a friend.
I also want to express my gratitude to the many, many people who made Msgr. John O'Brien's Funeral Mass an amazing celebration of grace and mercy! Thank you for making the time to serve in so many capacities - his family is grateful and so am I!
I am grateful to all who made time to come to the various farewell celebration or came in to meet in person or on the phone. Your words of kindness, expressions, gratitude, and desire for me to remain as your Pastor touched my heart greatly. I will cherish the photos taken over the past few weeks. I am grateful to our amazing staff and all who worked with them in the past month to put these events together. What a Church Family!
Pray for me! As the great Michael Jordan learned twice (when he tried to go from basketball to baseball and when he went from player to Front Office at the Bulls), a change in one's role is significant. Just because I was "good" at St. Raymond does not mean I can be "good" at another parish. There are so many variables. I know that God is able to do just what He said He can do and that He will not give up on me. Pray that I REMEMBER that every day.
I look forward to your emails, phone calls, and visits. Please stay connected. If I am invited, and my schedule permits, I will return to St. Raymond on occasion. But for now, please be who you are meant to be as a Church Family and live out your baptismal call as priest, prophet, and king! Continue to make St. Raymond a place where God is glorified and His people are sanctified. Continue to walk with Jesus - because He makes life better! Please be generous in giving Fr Jeff a chance. When he fails, give him another chance like you gave me. Please encourage him, and challenge him, as you did for me. Above all, pray for him in these days. God's grace amazing!
One last joke - where do polar bears keep their money? In a snow bank! Admit it - you are smiling!
I love you!