If you have not already, you will soon be receiving a letter in the mail from me regarding our annual Season of Stewardship, of which I wrote in last week’s bulletin. With that said, those who read this bulletin article may not be receiving a letter, either because you are just visiting or because you are not officially registered at the Cathedral. So if you do not receive a letter, you are not off the hook!
One of the themes that I have presented to the parish over my time here is the notion that we are a family of faith. Although this is the title of our catechetical program for our grade school and high school students and their families, it is more than just a program, more than just a title. From time to time, I have people asking me where home is. I always struggle to answer this – I grew up in Troy, IL (southern part of our diocese), my family moved to Wisconsin when I was in college, my parents now live part time in Wisconsin and part time in Texas, and pretty much all of my family lives outside of the diocese, with the exception of a few distant relatives. A common reaction to my trying to explain this is empathy for how difficult that must be, not being able to see family very often, not being able to spend holidays with them. Can it be difficult? Absolutely! But am I sad? Not a bit. For my entire priesthood, home has always been where I have been assigned, and I believe that has been a great grace that has enabled me to be more attached to a parish family than if I had the presence of my own family close by. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have my family closer, but I do not feel disappointed at all with the situation that I have. Each parish has welcomed me into their family, and I have done my very best to be a good member of that family, such that I have tried to be generous with my time, the gifts God has given me, and yes, even my money. And I have been very joyful in being able to give of these because when they are given for those we love, the cost it not really an issue.
Why do I share this with you? Because I want you to know how thankful I am to be a part of our Cathedral Parish family. I love it when I get to celebrate Mass and see all of you, sharing the one person I love more than anything else, Jesus Christ! It’s why I do my best to be around to distribute Holy Communion at masses that I am not celebrating and greeting you after as many masses as possible. It is because I love being around you, and I love being able to serve you.
My great prayer for this parish is that we see one another as a family. It is my prayer that you love being around this family we have here. You all have your own families, and I know you want what is best for them. As your spiritual father, you are my family, and I want what is best for you, to have a sense of belonging, an awareness of being loved by Jesus, and a desire to be more fully invested in this family. Many of you are indeed invested in this parish family, and that brings my heart so much joy. But I want more for our family. When I appeal for us to pray about our stewardship, my prayer is for you to be here, to make that commitment to pray with your parish family, and to pray for your parish family. If all that came from this appeal for the Season of Stewardship was having more of you here to celebrate each Sunday as a family, I would be a very pleased spiritual father. And just by showing up, realizing what a gift it is to be a part of this family, I have no doubt you will authentically desire to share yourselves more generously with your family whom you love and who loves you, for we are all united together as brothers and sisters in the one love of God Himself for us as His beloved sons and daughters.