Dear Friends in Christ,
One month has come and gone since I arrived here at St. Thomas Aquinas. What a month it’s been. I spent the first two weeks getting to know the deacons and priests, as well as the parish staff, and the general inner workings of our parish’s administration. The next two weeks I met with a host of the key volunteer leaders in the parish, learning about what they do and how I can hopefully be of service to the various groups. Though I only just barely scratched the surface on these fronts, it’s invigorating to know some of the moving parts that make up the vibrant life of St. Thomas Aquinas parish.
Throughout the month, too, I spent time getting to know some of our families, which represent such a rich diversity of backgrounds, gifts, talents, and histories. Some have been here for generations; some for years; some for only a few weeks. But all have an indispensable role in God’s plan for the mission of His Church. There’s no such thing as a Catholic without a mission. It’s one of my great privileges and joys as your pastor to encourage and develop this sense enthusiastic openness to a missionary approach to life in general, and parish life in particular. I’m happy this has already begun this month with many of you.
In the past month, some folks have asked me: “What’s your plan for the parish? What are you changing? Are you going to __________ here at the parish? (fill in the blank with any number of things)”
The answer to these questions (in whatever form they take) is almost always: “I don’t know.” And it’s the God-honest truth. A pastor’s task is never to make or remake a parish according to his own thoughts, opinions, or preferences. Quite the opposite: it is do God’s will, in union with Jesus the Good Shepherd, who guides his pastors in a joyful union with the people, and with the entire Church…in this parish, with its own particular genius and history.
That’s why I plan on spending much time in the coming months listening and learning from you about what God has done here in the past…what God is doing now…all to help us discern what God desires to here in the future. I’ll depend on the parish council, the finance council, and the school board for wise consultation, as well as on input from so many others.
After only one month here, I can tell you this with absolute certainty: God’s plan for the future of St. Thomas Aquinas is dynamic and wonderful! But it takes daily openness to receive and live it. Let’s pray for that openness, especially in these months of transition. Also…if you hear rumors about supposed major changes being launched here at the parish—no matter how good/bad/indifferent they may seem to be—please be advised…they are just rumors. Change and speculation can go hand-in-hand…but I thank you for not reading too much into idle talk.
It takes time to get to know a person; it takes time to get to know a parish…but knowledge opens the door to love, so that’s time well-spent. Thanks for your prayers, and I assure you of mine.