Monday, May 12, 2014

July 16th, 2014: Moving to St. Thomas Aquinas (International Falls) and St. Columban (Little Fork)!

            Throughout the past few weeks I have been asking our secretary Anny a question every day: “Any mail?”  Specifically, I was referring to an expected letter from Bishop Sirba that would reveal my next assignment.  I received it on Saturday [April 26th]!
            I am truly honored that Bishop Sirba has appointed me the next pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas (International Falls) and St. Columban (Little Fork).  I am humbled by his trust in me to be a pastor, and not only a pastor but a pastor with an elementary school.
            I’m guessing your first question to me would be: “What was your reaction to this assignment?  I-Falls…that’s a ways out there!”  My answer in a word: PUMPED!
            I love being a priest and I told Bishop Sirba to send me wherever he needs me.  His assignment is God’s will for me, and there is no greater joy in my life than following this.  No matter where priesthood takes me I have the joy of praying Mass, preaching, hearing Confessions, baptizing, anointing, witnessing marriages, presiding at funerals and striving to bring people into deeper relationship with God. 
So on July 16th I will be moving to my next assignment in a beautiful corner of our Diocese.  I will be following a great pastor (Fr. Kris McKuskey), joining an excellent staff and continuing to work in Catholic education, youth ministry and religious education.  And I will finally bid adieu to Fr. Rich!
With all this said, it will be bittersweet moving on.  I have spent many years at St. John’s and St. Joseph’s.  I was a youth minister here in college, present often during college seminary, assigned to spend one weekend a month during my formation at St. Paul Seminary as my teaching parish and here two years as a priest.  You have been instrumental in my formation as a priest and it will be difficult to say goodbye.
In a special way I want to thank our staff and faculty.  I have learned so much about parish life, education, evangelism and day-to-day practicalities from our secretary (Anny) DREs (Kevin and Alisha) principal (Peggy) marketing (Kiersten) musician (Michele) custodians (Eric and Pete), all of our teachers (Sue, Amanda, Dawn, Leah, Kelly, Don, Tristy and Marge) and students.  I am also grateful for the many active volunteers who make our programs here effective and you have all set the bar high for any assignment of mine in the future.  Finally, thanks to all of you for welcoming me into your home and family for numerous meals and beers.  Fellowship with you has been rejuvenating, inspiring and necessary in my life.
A big thanks to Fr. Rich who has gone from an inspiring priest in my faith to my vocation director and now pastor.  It has been a joy working with you and I consider you a brother and friend and you have taught me more than any other priest how to be a pastor and evangelize others.  I maintain that I will be the best associate pastor you will ever have. 
If my ministry here has inspired you in to grow in our Catholic faith, praise God!  If you are bummed to see me move, always remember that God is faithful and that always provides His love and mercy to His people.  And if you are happy to see me go, you are in good hands with Fr. Rich!
Please pray for me in this transition in my priesthood and life and know of my prayers for you.  St. John’s and St. Joseph’s will always have a special place in my heart!

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