We are down to the final week of the friars’ time here at St. Francis. Our new pastor Msgr. Michael Clay, along with his associate Fr. Jairo Maldonado, both begin here on Tuesday, September 1st. Fr. Steve Kluge and I just this past week received news on our next assignments: Steve Kluge will be moving to St. Francis of Assisi Church on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, not far from where he grew up in Point Pleasant on the New Jersey shore. I will be moving to St. Francis Church on 31st St. in New York City. Big changes for both of us! We were glad to finally hear the news and we are both happy to be going to good places: for both of us, it’s closer to our families and to where we grew up, Steve in New Jersey and me in Massachusetts. Jim Sabak will continue to be in residence at St. Francis, working full-time at the Diocese of Raleigh.

Next Sunday, August 30th, is the friars’ final weekend at St. Francis. We’ll have the usual 9:30 mass with livestream, and after the mass is ended there will be a presentation, so plan to stay for extra time at the end of the 9:30 next week. Please note also that our mass schedule for now is Sunday 9:30 livestream (currently with first communion kids, though not next Sunday the 30th) and 5:30 Sunday with limited attendance. This has worked well for us in these times of Covid-19 and of course all of this could change going forward. Many thanks to our staff who have worked hard in creating a safe and healthy environment for our liturgies.

I know for me these are bittersweet days as I begin to pack things up and move. Moving is always hard; it’s all about letting go of things and being open to something new, and that in itself is a kind of description of the Christian life – to once more begin again. I’ve had 14 years in North Carolina between Durham (8 years) and Raleigh (6 years), have formed good relationships here, and I will miss that. You, the people of St. Francis, have embraced me and embraced us, and leaving that is what makes this bittersweet. But we know also that, in the gospel, Jesus is always on the move, “Let us go on to the next towns, so that I may preach there also…” (Mark 1:38). And so we go.

Special thanks and prayers to our school which started classes last week, and to our preschool which begins on Monday. Also our parish staff for all the work in setting up virtual programs for the fall. These are new and strange times we’re in and our staff has responded well to all of it. 

Please always remember that St. Francis needs your ongoing support, your encouragement, and in particular your continued financial support. Our bishop has served us well in assigning us a very good pastor in Msgr. Michael Clay, and new associate (and newly ordained) Fr. Jairo Maldonado. The parish will be in good hands with them. One more week to go! Fr. Steve Kluge has his farewell this Sunday and I will have next Sunday the 30th. 

Blessings on your week!

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