Dear Brothers and Sisters,

You have likely noticed that in our memorial garden a disease impacted the trees, which required them to be taken down last month. This past week the “re-creation” of the garden began, including removing the tree stumps, transplanting hollies, and creating and forming new planting beds. Underneath, the grass was reworked to provide for better irrigation, drainage and lighting. Over the next few weeks more work will be done, including planting of summer annuals. The memorial garden is a holy and sacred place, a place of life which reminds us of the communion of saints as we enter the church to worship our God. The columbarium committee and I are grateful to our parishioner Gregg Mason, who studied the landscaping of memorial gardens and provided the leadership on this project. Through his landscaping business, Gregg donated a great deal of his time and talent for the garden to be transformed so beautifully.

Saturday, June 21 at the 5:30 pm Mass, we will pray a blessing upon Ben and Gladys Whitehouse as they retire from many years of serving our faith community. Ben retired in March after years as Facilities Manager and then Director of Operations. Gladys is retiring at the end of this month as Coordinator of Evangelization. See her column on page 4 of the bulletin. Please join as we give thanks to God for the gifts these stewards of our parish have generously shared with us.

Earlier this month, at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., our Holy Name Province held its triennial chapter.  We were fortunate to have our Minister General Brother Michael Perry, OFM, the successor of St. Francis of Assisi, join us from Rome. Fr. Perry, who had recently returned from accompanying Pope Francis to the Holy Land, shared with us reflections about our Franciscan life. At the chapter we also elected new leadership for our province.

Fr. Kevin Mullin, OFM, President of Siena College, was elected Minister Provincial and Fr. Larry Hayes, OFM, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, was elected Vicar Provincial. These friars are assisted by six councilors who advise the Provincial and, for all practical purposes, are our personnel committee. They will be meeting in the upcoming weeks to make decisions about our future together.

After 19 years ministering to this community, it will be time for me to move on to a new assignment. It will be difficult to say good-bye, and yet I look forward to a new challenge. When I arrived at St. Francis in 1995, I never expected to be here so long but am glad to have been able to develop roots here in Raleigh.

The process for recommending a new pastor to Bishop Burbidge began in March when Fr. Mel Jurisich, OFM visited us. In addition to celebrating two weekend Masses and visiting Franciscan School, Fr. Mel met with the friar community, pastoral staff, leadership council members and also Bishop Burbidge. Mel was greatly impressed with all that he experienced and, based on what he heard while here, will make recommendations to the new administration on the qualities and characteristics needed in the next pastor. As more information becomes known about my successor, I will let you know. The transition of a new pastor will likely take place sometime in autumn. No doubt we will find time to celebrate my departure and the arrival of a new friar pastor. No changes are anticipated for Fr. Bill and Fr. David, who will remain serving St. Francis of Assisi providing continuity for the friar community during the transition of pastor.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark