Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are in the path of Hurricane Florence, as well as our neighbors affected by the tragic and unfortunate events in Merrimack Valley on Thursday evening. We pray for their safety, for minimal damage and a quick return to their homes and churches.
Our parish family is in the midst of a very difficult time, and I suffer with you. Many of you have written or called to express your concern about the current situation involving our beloved Director of Ministries, Sal Caraviello, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts. I concur with you how heartbreaking this is on so many levels.
Before coming to St. Mary in April, many people had shared with me what a wonderful parish we are, and what an amazingly vibrant youth and religious education program we have. For the past five months, I have witnessed the great esteem our parish has for Sal Caraviello and of the program he built and the lives he has impacted so profoundly. I have great admiration for Sal's ministry, and I am grateful to work and minister with him and our amazing staff.
I, too, have witnessed firsthand Sal's great ministry. Our First Holy Communion Masses could not have been more joyful and holy. Our Encounter and Baccalaureate Masses were inspirational. The youth events I attended with Sal were exceptionally engaging. Many people have told me how Sal has changed their lives and their families for the better. One person told me, quite simply, "Sal saved my life." I have great appreciation and esteem for Sal's ministry. I have enjoyed working and ministering with him in these and many other wonderful moments.
Many people have been quite concerned, and even angry, that I have said little about what is happening. This is why: We are dealing with a personnel matter. This is not a "veil of secrecy;" it is me respecting the privacy of one of our beloved staff members. Sal is still our Director of Ministries. Please know that Sal and I are planning to meet in the days to come to continue our conversation, and privacy is expected when dealing with such matters, and I am obliged to respect.
Because I am still new to our parish family and you have not had the opportunity to get to know me as a person or a priest, much of the anger about this matter has been directed at me personally. This includes the ten days I spent recently with my father. While I cared for my 92 year old father during this time, I was doing all I could to help our parish and staff. This time away with my father was planned months before I arrived at St. Mary. I accompanied him to a reunion of his WWII ship, the USS Lewis. He cannot travel alone. He is a Navy hero. It was a great honor and privilege to accompany and care for my father.
In addition, many calls and emails to our parish staff have also not been kind. Our dedicated staffs are continuing to work hard for the parish, and I beg you, as Christians, to treat them kindly and respectfully while we navigate this process. I am honored to serve you with this wonderful team. I care deeply for them and for you.
I have great hope in Christ, our faith and our parish family. For 143 years, St Mary's has united in the Lord, encouraged by His Word and nourished by His Body and Blood. I am praying fervently for our parish, for Sal, and for all of our amazing parish staff. One of Fr. Dick Messina's legacies was in calling us to be united as a loving family. Fr. Dick's prayers, and those offered by you, are needed at this time to help us through. I am turning to our Blessed Mother for her love and intercession through this very difficult moment.
Yours in Christ,