We are now back in the season of Ordinary Time; the season of Christmas ended last Sunday, our magnificent tree came down, Fr. Jim’s 60+ nativity sets were packed away, and the brightness and wonder and magi and stars in the night sky give way to other stories, to green vestments, to life quietly continuing on. As you know, these past few weeks have been intense, with news of the friars withdrawing from the parish by June. We friars are deeply grateful for the many kind words and support we have received. We will have several months to prepare for a transition to a new pastor, and it will be important for us to stay focused on the continuing life and work of the parish of St. Francis of Assisi.
A few people have asked me “if I stop giving to the parish, will Holy Name Province change its decision?” The answer to this question is a strong No! It is critical – critical! – that you, the people of St. Francis, continue your support of this parish in every way. Recall that St. Francis is not, has never been, a Franciscan parish, but is a parish of the diocese of Raleigh which has been served by Franciscan friars for several decades. Clearly the Franciscans have had a strong influence on the life of this parish, but the parish belongs to the bishop, and the ongoing life and vitality of this parish rests with you, the baptized People of God. Always remember that.
Over the next several months we will be in discussion with the bishop and will keep you informed about any decisions he makes about who will come in as pastor. It will also be very important to support him, as you have supported me and the friars along the way – this is a large and complex parish and it will take time for him to get to know how it all works. On behalf of Jim, Steve, and myself, thank you again for your many kind words over the past few weeks.