Last Sunday our own Father David Beagles offered his first Mass of Thanksgiving at the 10AM Sunday Mass and I was privileged to be asked by Father David to preach at it. In my opening comments I spoke of two weddings that I had been a part of in the past few weeks as well as Father David’s ordination with five other priests on the previous Friday evening. None of those events went as many had thought they would, but, nonetheless, God’s purposes were still achieved. As I come to my last weekend as rector of the Cathedral, in a world that has been turned upside down over the past three months or so, I find myself in the same boat. The chance to say good-bye and thank you is rather limited, but, as with so many moments in life, we simply have to
do what we can in the moment.
I have been a priest for eighteen years and nine and a half of those years have been here at the Cathedral: three and half the first time around and now ending six years as rector. There have been ups and downs, joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, but, all in all, the good and the graces have far outweighed the moments of testing and challenge. I was ordained a deacon and a priest in the Cathedral church. I sat on the restoration project’s steering committee. I remember those fifteen months when we made our way either to Sacred Heart or Blessed Sacrament churches for Masses. I witnessed the glory of the rededication of the church and I experienced the heartbreak of having to decide that the mission of our school could not continue on any longer. I have been blessed to see new ministries and faith formation opportunities take shape in our parish these last few years because God is good and always working to renew his Church. Simply put, Cathedral is a part of who I am. It is a part of my spiritual DNA and nothing will ever change that.
I wish to thank Bishop Paprocki for the honor of being entrusted with the care of the Mother Church for these past years. I wish to thank Fathers Seth, Marty, Braden, Wayne, Michael and Dominic, the six priests who faithfully served you with me these past six years; to watch them grow in their priesthood from the very beginning has been a great honor for me. I thank Deacon Larry and Deacon Scott for their constant assistance and for their counsel to me in seeking what God was asking of us as a parish. I thank Grant and Ryan, our present seminarian interns, and those before them. My gratitude goes to the parish staff, to Lisa, Jan, Mark, Sr. Francella, Vicki, Haley, and Erick, as well as to all who have formerly served this parish in my time as rector. In a special way I wish to thank Bill Vogt for his loving care of this parish and its priests. Since my first days in the seminary, Bill has been a part of the Cathedral and his generous hospitality continues to help make it a home for the many priests and seminarians who find themselves here.
Finally, my thanks to all of you. Whether you are a parishioner who is involved in multiple parts of the parish’s life or the anonymous Mass goer who regularly comes to the Cathedral. For the smiles, greetings, gratitude, encouragement, trust, and openness that you have shared with me over these years, I thank you. Priests come and go but you remain. The clergy have an effect on parish life, but the parish exists because of the faithful so never be afraid to take ownership of it because it is yours. I expect you to continue to be a center of faith and hospitality. If not, I will be sorely disappointed. Know that wherever I am asked to go, I will carry the Cathedral parish in my heart and prayers, especially when I go up to the altar. With love and gratitude, I ask our good Lord and the Blessed Mother, our patroness, to continue to abundantly bless you and yours. I look forward to seeing you again in normal times or, if not, then God-willing in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various leadership roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.
My Deepest Gratitude
To the Cathedral family, I want to extend a very warm “Thank You” for all you have done for me in the past two years at this assignment. You have had the burden (I hope it’s been mostly light!) of forming my priestly heart, as this was my first pastoral assignment as a priest. I’ll never forget all that you have done for me, and all that you’ve taught me about how to love as a priest loves. Know that my prayers for all of the beautiful people I have met here continue as I go to Decatur–and I earnestly ask your continued prayers for those poor souls in Decatur that have to deal with me as their pastor now! Please do keep in touch, and we will see each other in the Eucharist.
Peace, Fr. Friedel