On this, my last weekend here at St. Michael’s, St. Mary’s, and St. Kilian’s, I would like to once again thank God, Bishop Callahan, and all of you for the privilege of being able to serve as your pastor here for the last three years. I have come to know so many wonderful people and there is much that I have learned. I am grateful to you for your kindness and generosity, which you have shown me in so many ways. Please stay in touch and don’t hesitate to stop in at Notre Dame if you’re ever passing through Chippewa Falls. And most importantly, don’t listen to whatever the pastor of St. John’s in Marshfield says about me! Maybe he’ll forget about me, but I doubt it.
I realize there are many who are still upset over the sudden changeover in pastors. Many of us remember the days in our youth when pastors stayed put for 15 or 20+ years. Not only is this very rare today, but it is virtually impossible to maintain given the number of parishes and the number of active priests in our Diocese. When one or two priests need to move (for various reasons, such at retirement, poor health, etc.), the “dominos fall” and the Bishop must try to assign the “right priest” to the “right parish” as best as possible. As long as we have as many small and separate parishes in our Diocese as we do, the likelihood of seeing a quick changeover in pastors is greater, especially in smaller parishes like our own. Please try to understand the great difficulty our good Bishop faces! Please pray for Bishop Callahan and, if you wish to write him, thank him for his ministry as Bishop of our Diocese, and thank him for sending another priest.
In the changes ahead, all of us, myself included, are being called to deeper faith and relationship with the Lord. Big changes in life, as I preached about this past Easter, call us to this. They teach us greater detachment from the things and persons of this world and summon us to fix our gaze on the Lord and things eternal. May we not let ourselves get down about such changes and what is beyond our control, for this will only stifle the work the Holy Spirit wants to do on our hearts.
Please give a warm welcome next weekend to your new pastor, Fr. Antony Arokiyam, who is coming to you from St. Patrick’s in Mauston. Get to know him. Invite him over to your home. Bear in mind that this is a sudden and unexpected change for him as well. Undoubtedly, Fr. Antony will bring with him his own unique set of pastoral gifts and abilities, and will enrich your communities in new and unanticipated ways. Be open to the Holy Spirit and receive him warmly!
Please pray for me and I will pray for you. God bless you all!