Dear Friends in Christ,
To all the Dads among us, Happy Father’s Day. And as we give thanks for the gift of fatherhood, I am grateful for the grace of being the spiritual father of our parish family. Next Sunday is the 14th anniversary of my service as the 16th pastor of St. Mary’s, and I have now served longer than all but two of my predecessors: Monsignor Gwynn and Monsignor Baum. In these 14 years I have often thought of them and their combined 73 years of service to St. Mary’s, and as it has been from the start, my hope is to spend the rest of life here and then to rest in their company at the door of the church they did so much to build.
Being a parish priest is a remarkable way of life, and I am grateful every day for this privilege. To preach the Gospel, administer the sacraments, guide the life of our parish, and walk with you in the Way of the Cross is an adventure every day, and I thank God for this gift. I also thank you for your witness to Christ and for the many ways you serve the Lord Jesus and the least of his brethren.
During the recent ordination which we hosted here and the 50th anniversary of an ordination that came two weeks before that, we were joined by hundreds of guests from other parishes, and seeing one’s own home through the eyes of visitors can be an enlightening experience. They spoke to me about their delight in the beauty of our campus, the nobility of our church, the splendor of our music, the transcendence of our liturgy, and the gracious welcome of our people. In other words, our visitors saw here what all of us strive so hard to make and sustain: a Christian community of grace and warmth and rest from the world’s burdens where all who gather can find the peace which the world cannot give. Hearing the comments of our guests made me thankful for our many blessings and grateful for your dedication to our parish.
Perhaps the most unexpected blessing of these years is the flowering of priestly vocations. In the past decade, four sons of St. Mary’s (Fathers Christopher Smith, Michael Cassabon, Renaurd West and Roger Morgan) have been ordained for the Diocese of Charleston, while Father Dwight Longenecker and Father Jon Chalmers were also ordained here at our altar. Remember that the Wednesday afternoon Holy Hour is offered for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and I encourage every family in the parish to make this intention part of your household prayers as well. Ask the Lord to send us priests, fathers for God’s family.
St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth that he became their father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel (cf 1 Corinthians 4.15), and that is why the most beloved title of priests is Father.
Praised be Jesus Christ. Now and forever.