This past week I was in St. Petersburg, Florida for a gathering of friars who are solemnly professed under five years (SPUFY). Along with one other friar, I am a co-moderator of that group, and it’s an opportunity for these younger friars to come together and talk about their experiences of being new to religious life. Recall that “profession” and ordination are different things: all friars profess their vows of poverty, chastity, obedience; some friars then choose to go on for ordination (as we three here have done); some choose not to be ordained but to serve in other ways. And so we are all brothers in the sense of being part of the same fraternity, but each of us chooses which way we want to live that out. For some perspective, there are six (6) friars professed under five years, a big change from what we once were, and that decline in numbers helped to inform the decision by our province to withdraw from several ministries this year.
A word on where we are in this transition: there is not a lot to report at this point. We received the announcement of HNP’s withdrawal on January 3. I would say that the shock and surprise have subsided, as we go about the daily life of the parish, and are reminded over and over of the many good things that happen here. We expect that a new pastor will be identified sometime in the spring and that he will likely begin here sometime by the summer. We also know the position of pastor here has been posted to the priests in the diocese and that the bishop has a discernment process in place to identify that new pastor. The bishop has asked us to pray for him and that St. Francis welcome and receive a new pastor with grace. As you know, we have been praying a prayer of transition at every Sunday Mass as we prepare ourselves in hopeful anticipation for a new pastor. We are also praying on Friday mornings at 9:45 (it was a Friday morning that the call from HNP came); see the website for information for how you can become involved in that.
I am working with our staff and with our councils on how best to prepare the way, and I believe that as the shock and surprise have subsided, we have moved into a good, receptive, prayerful way of hopeful anticipation of what lies in our future. And I can speak for the friars in saying thank you for all your kind words of support along the way.
A reminder that Ash Wednesday is this week, see the bulletin/website for service times.