You have likely heard by now of the upcoming retirement of Fr. Joseph. We’re all sad to see him leave, but certainly are excited that he will have some time to enjoy himself in retirement. If you haven’t had the chance yet, take the time to wish him well and pray for him. He has done a wonderful job of leading us in worship, tackling the debt at St. Peter’s, making improvements in the church buildings, and maintaining the parishes. He has welcomed new members into the Church through Baptism and the sacraments of initiation for adults. He has given First Communion to many of our youth and assisted the Bishop with confirming our young adults. He has married some and buried some. The work of the parish priest is one of joy and sadness; joy in seeing people grow in their faith and be inspired to serve and sadness, seeing some die, leaving us poorer without them. He will be remembered fondly by us for his strong faith and steadfast leadership.
There is always a sense of uncertainty when we face changes such as this. What will our new priest, Fr. John Potaczek, be like? Will he change anything? Most of us do not like change, so this uncertainty causes unrest. Some of us may remember Fr. John from his time at St. Stephen’s in the past. For others, we will come to know him in just a few weeks. Let’s also pray for Fr. John, that he will be the priest to lead us even closer to the Lord. That really is the role of a priest; to offer sacrifice (the Mass) and to help each of us to have an encounter with God.
We can identify with the Apostles on this Solemnity of the Ascension, who also faced a big change when Jesus ascended to Heaven. They were uncertain what was next. They had not received the Holy Spirit yet and likely felt lost without Jesus at their side. Yet Jesus told them He would be with them always, until the end of the age. Perhaps that comforting statement calmed their fears during the time between the Ascension and Pentecost.
So let’s use the gifts we’ve been given, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, to help us during our time of uncertainty. And let us realize that we’re in great shape; we have a priest coming, we have a strong parish family here at St. Casimir’s and St. Peter’s with strong leaders, our finances are in good shape and we are a people of hope. And most important we have a strong faith. Please remember Fr. Joseph and Fr. John in your prayers and may God bless you!