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Change is the Only Constant

As we enter summer at St. Francis, it isn’t just a change of season but a change in our pastoral presence. We bid Father Alex a fond farewell and much good fortune as he leaves to become pastor at Holy Family Parish in Elizabeth City, his 5th time in that pastoral role. As Father Alex leaves, we welcome Father James Singarayar to St. Francis as parochial vicar. The clerical presence here remains strong, and having three priests on site, including Monsignor Clay and Father Jim with new arrival Father James, is a strength of our dynamic parish!

When asked what he would miss about St. Francis, Father Alex said, “When assigned to serve in Saint Francis this past year, I was very excited about the new experiences ahead of me. Saint Francis always had the reputation of a parish that was welcoming and nonjudgmental and whose parishioners cared deeply, especially for those people often referred to as marginalized, rejected, or discriminated against.” He continued, “I will miss the special bond of fraternity, affection, and ‘family’ of daily Mass.” That family feeling was there because of the parishioners who come to Mass and are a community. He was always amazed that they knew when someone was missing or in need and cared for each other, like family. While they were many experiences he would remember fondly, he does remember his field day experience at The Franciscan School this year! “I enjoyed [field day] so much; I think that day I became 20 years younger!” 

Father Alex says the Albemarle region of North Carolina, where Elizabeth City lies, is very much unknown to him, “As a priest, I have never before worked at any parish in that area, so I am very excited but also expectant of what the parish’s, and the people’s, general visions, ecclesiologies, needs, etc. will be. I am pleased that after a couple of years without serving a Hispanic community, I will have the chance to interact with them again.” He looks forward to renewing his role as pastor and says, “At the end of the day, being a pastor is always learning to ask yourself ‘how much did I grow in Jesus’ image and how or when during the day ‘was I Jesus,’ for others?’” The people of Holy Family are fortunate that Father Alex is coming to serve their community!

Here at home, we are fortunate to have Father James Singarayar joining us! Father James was born to Catholic parents in Tamil Nadu, India, the southernmost state in India, and is the third and youngest child in his family. In his early life, Father James shared, “I attended my primary and high school education at Catholic schools. I joined the seminary in 1999 and completed various formation levels before being ordained in 2009 for the ‘Heralds of Good News.’” What are the ‘Heralds of Good News?’ you might ask.  Father James says, “The Heralds of Good News is a Missionary Society of Apostolic Life, started in the Diocese of Eluru, India, in 1984, and became an Institute of Pontifical Right on May 5, 1999.” An ‘institution of pontifical right’ depends immediately and exclusively on the Holy See for internal governance and discipline matters. Father James continues, saying, “The specific aim of the Society is to promote vocation to the priesthood, training of seminarians, and send missionaries to the diocese throughout the world wherever there is a need. ”

Father James mentioned in his service as a priest, “After my ordination, I served as associate pastor for one year and then began advanced studies for two years. After completing my master’s degree in philosophy, I taught in our major seminary for four years, where I also served as Dean of Philosophy.”  As he completed his teaching, he said, “It was the time for my religious order to send me as a Missionary. So my religious superior sent me to the United States as a missionary.” He has served in various roles, having been an associate pastor, administrator, and pastor at different times for the last six and half years. During his time in the United States, his ministry has included association with Parish or interparochial schools. With the well-established schools at St. Francis, Father James’ experience at schools is sure to be much appreciated. When asked about his role at St. Francis and what he looks forward to in his new role, Father James says, “ I served in the parishes below one thousand registered families, but now I am excited to be in a parish above five thousand families. I believe the Lord has assisted me in touching people’s lives with his love and compassion in the past and will continue to bless and guide me. Now I feel very blessed to be with you all. I request your prayers, and always be assured of my humble prayers for you. God bless you!” 

Welcome to St. Francis of Assisi, Father James!

Author: Mike Watson