This is the second time I have said Merry Christmas to you as your pastor and it simply inspires thankfulness in my heart. I know I do not say “thank you” enough so I would like to share a few of them with you.
Thank God for the many and abundant gifts. In my ministry, I get to see God working in people’s lives. God’s call is both challenging and a blessing but it is good to see God’s active presence. It is simply a blessing to be able to participate in God’s work.
Thank you for your generosity of time, talent and treasure. Obviously, you have been very generous in your financial support – our parish, youth trips, and care for those in need. The time committed to councils and committees, teaching and witnessing is tremendous. As I write this, the Christmas choir is practicing and our depth of talent is stunning. Yet, I know so much is done that I do not even know about. Thank you.
Thank our parish staff. My mother always promised to pray for whoever had to work with me. I never understood this, but I am sure our staff can explain. Each ministry has excelled and tremendous growth has happened across the board. Integrating several new staff members and new responsibilities is never easy but the staff has handled it well. I am excited to see what this team will be able to do in the future.
Thank you for all of the Christmas cards, letters, gifts, and in particular photos. In my office, I have a meeting table with a glass top. As I receive Christmas photos, I slip them under the glass. Last year, they covered the whole table. A young man who was considering a call to the priesthood sat at the table, stared at all the photos, and said, “You are lucky to be a priest here.”
Thank you for helping me to grow. You might have noticed that God’s love has been front and center on my mind. I hope I never tire of speaking of God’s faithful love. What you have taught me is that a parish has to be a community of love. Normally heard at weddings, St. Paul’s words apply to the parish as well: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
Please know that I hold you in prayer and pray for those who are experiencing particularly difficult times. May you be sustained by God’s love through our parish.
May God bless you and keep you,