Dear Brothers and Sisters of Holy Angels and St. Joseph Parishes,
The peace of the risen Christ be with you!
Christ is truly risen, and in these most holy days of the year, we celebrate 50 days of Easter, and on top of that, the first 8 days are a super-ultimate octave celebration, Easter times a whole week long. These are truly days of grace, even though it seems like the whole world is topsy-turvy.
I know that the announcement of Fr. Evelio’s departure and my coming are probably like the earthquake that startled the soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus. They probably figured it was just another crummy assignment after a long several days of grueling work. It didn’t seem like it could get worse. But with one great earthquake, everything changed.
While we are celebrating these days of Easter joy, Fr. Evelio and I (and small number of other priests in the diocese) will be preparing ourselves for new mission grounds, to proclaim the good news that Christ our Passover has been sacrificed, and now the Son of God has risen and is Lord of heaven and earth. While it is not quite the Easter excitement I had in mind, it is one that I joyfully accept.
When Bishop Bradley told me “We have a need…” and explained what the need was, I was quite surprised. But the words came to mind that would be the communion antiphon a few days later, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I look forward to these days ahead, a bit nervous, as you can probably imagine, but ready for this next step as I take up this new mantle of service for you, the People of God. I intend to dedicate myself to this labor with the strength God gives me, knowing that my own weaknesses and faults can prove to be occasions of grace. God never asks anything which he doesn’t make possible.
I intend to build on the foundation that others have laid, and that foundation is Christ. I hope that you will join me in thanking Fr. Evelio for his years of dedicated service and leadership, and wish him well in his next assignment. I am grateful also to Fr. Raúl Gomez for agreeing to stay with me, and show me how it’s done, as it were.
Finally, I ask that you continue to support your parish. This is an unprecedented time in our history. Many people are struggling. Our parishes as well. Many of us have had to make difficult decisions just to remain operational. We have expenses that continue year-round, despite income. Knowing that I do not yet have any “clout” with you, I ask you to prayerfully consider what you can offer. If you cannot give financially, perhaps you can consider supporting your parish in another way.
Please bear with me as I adjust to this new role. I’m sure that I will ask a lot of questions. Some, I’m sure I will ask multiple times. I may have to consult before I can give answers. There will be a lot to learn in the first year, especially. I’m sure I will make some mistakes. Our parishes are full of wonderful and talented and knowledgeable individuals who will help us steer straight. Trust that together we can arrive at our destination.
I know that these times preclude any kind of going-away party, or a welcoming party at this time. Let us pray for one another, that we may meet soon in person. In the meantime, let us meet together in the prayers of the Church, uniting our hearts and minds with our High Priest Jesus Christ who gave his life to heal all divisions and free us from sin and fear, so that distance may not divide us, but closeness of heart unite us. The bond of the Holy Spirit is stronger than distance.
Fr. Andrew Raczkowski