Good Bye – “Go With God” - People of the Resurrection...
This weekend, concluding my time here as your parish priest & pastor, may I please offer some parting reflections?
· First – my gratitude – to God, to Bishop Ricken, Bishop Bob, Abbot Neville & Prior Jim Baraniak, for offering & allowing me the opportunity to be with you here at Resurrection.
· And quickly behind that, my gratitude to you, parishioners, new comers, visitors and old-timers – for allowing, inviting, enduring, encouraging the experience of my presence here in this parish, which is so blessed by God, in so many ways.
· Among other things, I will always remember that I was here, as my folks, Germaine & Wayne, declined; as my Mom met her dying day – receiving that news, sitting on the bench by
the front church doors, watching the sun come up, just before beginning daily Mass, on Mardi Gras last year. There was nothing better that I could do for Mom, than to offer Mass, here with you. And the kindness of so many of you through those days is something I will never fail to appreciate, and try to offer to others in that ‘spot’. Thank you, so much!
It has been an unsettled and overwhelming year in a variety of ways. And, as I said last week, it has become clear to me, both on the routine and extraordinary events of the parish life, that I am not the priest who is able to lead this ‘parish family’ forward at a very crucial time in your history & that of the Church.
I mean that as an honest truth: I am not the ‘right fit’, particularly in staff coordination & fiscal matters & my own level of energy. I accept that. This does not disparage the parish, or me. No ‘blame’; just the reality of things.
As I have told my Diocesan & Norbertine superiors: “My ego wrote a check, in accepting the assignment, which my being is not able to cover.” For this ‘ego’ and pride, I am sorry, before them, before you and before God.
I have also come to more deeply appreciate - both as an outgoing & an incoming pastor – the intensity of grief in the aftermath of pastoral transitions. It’s palpable, beautiful, daunting, powerful, potentially paralyzing - something most of us aren’t very well trained to navigate. If I have neglected along the way to reverence this grief, in you, or myself, I am sorry. In the same breath, I must recall Fr. Paul Demuth’s words to me years ago: “Tim, a parish is either growing or dying, with brief pauses to celebrate and discern.” Please don’t be afraid to go forward from ‘what has been, & what is’.
So, it has been at my request, after much prayer, angst, soul-searching, sleeplessness and consultation, that both Abbot Radecki and Bishop Ricken have given me permission to conclude my assignment here this Friday, March 1st.
I hope, in the ‘Protestant’ sense – I mean that most respectfully – that I have been able to offer some helpful efforts as an “Interim Pastor”, and ‘buffer’ between 30 years of amazing pastors, staff and parochial growth here at Resurrection, and whatever God has in mind for the future. Particularly, I find fulfillment in:
· serving as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ to help sound the realities of changing demographics and the accompanying challenges of growing the parish forward in terms of Faith Formation, welcoming, empowering and ‘welcoming home’ younger generations of Staff and Roman Catholic Christians to ‘make their mark’ here;
· being able to assist folks in spiritual growth through the ministry of the Confessional, and 1-to-1 pastoral visits.
· helping to facilitate the parish’s ‘processing’ the withdrawal of Bishop Morneau from public ministry;
· helping to facilitate the transition of our long-time Business Manager/Development Director, Deb LeSage, from her position, as she fights “the good fight” against cancer for a 2nd time; (Please continue her in your prayers!)
For the Resurrection Parish Family: A “Temporary Administrator” will be appointed to cover the next 4 months; a new pastor will arrive on July 1st. Please welcome them both with warmth, openness, trust and your prayers.
For myself: I have asked to reclaim a 4-month portion of my sabbatical (deferred as I arrived here last year) to ‘catch my breath’, make a good directed retreat, cultivate some balance, energy & equilibrium, and tend to my Dad. I look to begin a new assignment as pastor, in a more modest setting, here in the diocese, on July 1st.
Both to those who have been disappointed by my coming or my being here, and to those whom I disappoint by my leaving at this time, I offer a sincere apology for my shortfall. Please forgive me.
The challenges and opportunities of this stretch at Resurrection have brought me closer to Jesus, more fervent, faithful, even desperate, in prayer…and finding Him always close by. I cannot but be grateful for that outcome, right?!
And I hope in some measure, for some folks, my time here has brought you, somehow, closer to Jesus as well.
Promising my prayers for you all, as the Journey of Faith for all of us continues – please God, toward Heaven’s Gate one day, I will continue to pray…
“God bless us...EVERY one”!