As I take leave from St. Joseph after eight truly blessed years, and move to St. Lawrence in Goffstown, NH, these past couple weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me: fear, apprehension, being overwhelmed by love and affirmation. At times, I have felt total exhaustion. Throughout it all, what has remained constant in the midst of my feelings, is deep abiding gratitude in my prayer.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I recall being your Pastor here these past eight years. Ministering to you has been a source of joy and fulfillment along with times of great moments of laughter. This community really knows the meaning of what it is, to be, the Church; especially fulfilling the Parish Mission Statement: Centered in the Living Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, …we are a welcoming Catholic Community. …we come together under Christ …to promote the truths of Faith, to sanctify them through the Sacraments, and to serve our Loving God and one another through worship, witness, and works of Charity. You do this without question. I am so proud to have been Spiritual Father of your community these past eight years.
Despite my struggle of leaving, I am so thankful for all the friendships I have formed here in the parish, and for how you have helped me grow in my relationship with God. I am grateful.
One of my favorite old school rock bands, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), has a song, Shangri-La that I have been particularly listening to lately. This song gets me to tears, because this parish community is a little Shangri-La in the White Mountains. At the end of the song, lead singer, Jeff Lynn, sings “I will return…” My late grandmother always said, upon leaving someone, “please don’t say ‘good-bye’; just: ‘see you later.’” And so, in her words: “See you later…next weekend!”
St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: 1:3-6 is a fitting passage:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.