MESSAGE FROM FR. MICHAEL – February 18, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

My appointment here at St. Mary Parish as Administrator is ending. Next Sunday will be my last day with you, and by Monday I will be on a plane to warmer places. My time here, as I shared before, is a blessing to me in my priestly ministry to God’s Holy People. There have been challenges and graces in my life as well as in yours. We have experienced the terminal illness of Fr. Dick, the prayers and support of parishioners and his funeral Liturgy with Cardinal Sean, with a number of priests and many faithfilled parishioners and friends. Fr. Rick’s decision and Cardinal Sean granting him Senior Priest status (retirement) after many years of priestly service to this parish and the Church as well as other changes in the make-up of our Pastoral Staff has been another challenge for some parishioners and staff persons.

Through all these moments in the life and history of this parish, I do believe that God the Holy Spirit continues to guide this local faith filled Catholic Community. It is only with reflection and discernment that we are able to see the guiding presence of God in our history. Many times we might feel as if the “sky is falling or our world is upside down.” It is in those moments and others when God reassures us of his abiding love and presence although we might not always feel or be aware of it. Some followers abandoned Jesus as he hung upon the Cross and others remained steadfast in the face of tremendous sadness and loss. May God grant each of us the graces we need to be faithful disciples.

Last week, our Interim Operations Manager shared some observations and thoughts about our campus and buildings. Over these many years since the construction of our Church in the 1800s, our school building in the early 1900s the Rectory, Parish Hall, Gathering Room and Kindergarten buildings have been used for worship, education and social gatherings. Our buildings in many ways serve the Mission of the Parish, celebrating our faith life and forming disciples. The continued maintenance, care and refurbishment over the years have been accomplished with your generosity and the shared financial responsibility of parishioners. All priests, staff and parishioners thank you for your past support and continued contributions.

Since arriving in Winchester on June 1, 2017, I have experienced a very warm welcome by many. It has been a joy and blessing to be here as the Administrator, as well as exercising the priestly ministry I was ordained to share. Celebrating the daily and Sunday Masses, Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals, Sacrament of Reconciliation, Sacrament of the Sick, Blessing Pets and all the other grace-filled celebrations have truly been a blessing. I hope I have not offended anyone during my time here, and I pray I have been of some assistance to the parish and parishioners during this time of transition. I ask for your prayers as I prepare to leave and know that I will remember my time at St. Mary Parish with fondness. I will also remember you in my prayers and continue to ask Our Lord to share his abundant love upon St. Mary Parish as you begin a new chapter in the long history of this Catholic Faith Community of Winchester.

Blessings always, Fr. Michael