Dear Friends in Christ:
As you probably know, this is the time of year when priests all around the country are on the move to new assignments. And it is never easy to share that news with your parish family- especially when it involves oneself.
Earlier this week, I received a phone call from the Diocese informing me that since my standard 6-year term at St. Mary’s was expiring, the Bishop is giving me a new assignment. To say I was surprised and caught off guard is the understatement of the year, as they say! I was heartbroken to receive the call, and am heartbroken to share the news with all of you. I love you deeply, and thought I would be here for at least a few more years, if not a full second term. You have become my family, and the thought of not being with you brings me deep sadness. I have enjoyed our time together more than you can possibly know. Your faithfulness, devotion, love, and service have inspired me on a daily basis. St. Mary will always have a special place in my heart!
At the same time, I always strive to be an obedient son, and I take our priestly vow of obedience very seriously. And so I will embrace the idea of a new parish, and of encountering Christ and His love there, as well. I know He has great things in store for me, and all of you, and your new pastor, and my new parish. God does not disappoint, and He never leaves us to face such things alone! I am comforted by the fact that you are receiving a fantastic new Pastor, Fr. Christopher DiTomo. I have known him his entire priesthood, and he is a warm, kind, faithful, approachable, and holy priest. In fact, if I had to pick a priest to follow me at St. Mary, he would be at the top of the list! I know you will welcome him and love him in the same way you have me and so many other priests over the years. And I know that he will fit right in and help to continue the wonderful, welcoming family atmosphere that you have forged over the years with all of your pastors. Fr. DiTomo is currently the pastor of St. Gall in Elburn, which is where I will now be going! It’s a growing community, a little south of here directly on Route 47, with a beautiful new church that was built just three years ago. My desire, of course, is to stay with you a while longer, but if I had to pick a place to go from here, Elburn would be right near the top of the list. Having grown up in Batavia, I am very familiar with that area and the wonderful people who call it home. In fact, I drive directly though Elburn every week for my day off, and my aging parents live very close by. In other words, I am confident that the Holy Spirit is active and involved in all of this, and I know that I will love the people in Elburn as I love you, and that you will open your hearts to welcome Fr. DiTomo with great joy.
This will all happen in a few short weeks, on Wednesday, July 1st. Admittedly, this is a difficult time for priests to be on the move, as we are slowly coming out of “sheltering in place” and are now welcoming more people back to Mass. But the end of the month is when term changes occur in our Diocese. And recent years have shown that a priest staying longer than 6 years is becoming less and less common for us. But it also means that holding a traditional “farewell” gathering might be difficult right now. We will see what we are able to do, even if it means me coming back when the pandemic calms down in order to do so. We will certainly keep you posted and informed. I want the opportunity to greet and thank and hug each of you personally! In the meantime, I will be preaching at all of the Masses the weekend of June 27 and 28. Please keep me and Fr. DiTomo and all the priests who are “on the move” in your prayers. And ask the Lord to grant you peace of mind and to comfort your heart, as well! God is good! Life with Him and one another is good! And life will continue to be so in the months and years ahead. You will be in good hands with Fr. DiTomo, Fr. Pluth, and Fr. Jerome, and that brings me great peace and comfort, too. God bless each and every one of you! Thank you for your kindness and encouragement and devotion. I love you. I will treasure even these last days together, and I look forward to coming back in the future and saying hello when I can.