“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18)
This is the passage that has been in my mind for the past several weeks as I have been preparing for my transition to this new assignment here at the Cathedral. In fact, my final bulletin article at my previous parish, St. Jude Parish in Rochester, began with this same verse, as I shared with my former parishioners my gratitude to have been a part of their lives for the past four years.
This weekend, as I spend my first weekend with you as the new Rector, I continue to give thanks to God. First of all, I give thanks for the wonderful leadership of Father House who served you so faithfully for the past six years. I have the privilege of working closely with Father House at our Catholic Pastoral Center and I know full well what big shoes I have to fill, but I am grateful that he has done a great deal to ease my transition through his leadership to you and his friendship to me.
I give thanks to Bishop Paprocki, the Pastor of our diocese and of this Cathedral Church, for entrusting me with the daily pastoral care of our Cathedral Parish. I am grateful to have the blessed distinction of being the first priest ever ordained by Bishop Paprocki and it has been my privilege to serve him in various capacities for most of my priesthood. Now I have the opportunity to serve with him and on behalf of him in this place that is so dear to both of us.
I give thanks for the privilege of having two newly-ordained priests join us here at the Cathedral. I have had the joy of serving Father Chineke and Father Vahling as their Vocation Director throughout their years of seminary formation. Their dedication to their formation was inspiring to witness. I have no doubt that their dedication was fueled by their desire to share their gifts with the people of God that they would one day serve as priests. Now, all of us will be the grateful recipients of the fruit of that hard work as they share the love of Christ with us here at the Cathedral.
Finally, I give thanks that I am coming back to the Cathedral, a place that is familiar to me. Many priests have some anxiety about moving to a new parish as there is so much to learn in a new assignment. While I have much to learn, I am much more at ease coming here because of my history with this parish. As you may remember, I lived in residence here for three years while I served as Bishop Paprocki’s Priest Secretary and Master of Ceremonies. While I did not have as much involvement as the priests assigned here, this was still my home and I felt very welcomed by you throughout that time. Even before my arrival, I have received that same warm welcome. I thank God in advance for the many opportunities of serving you in the future.
Father Alford is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in the diocesan curia as the Vicar for Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations.