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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

Congratulations to Fr. Frank, Peter Denio, Kristin Halvey and their team for the successful inauguration of Discovering Christ in our parish. There was a sell-out crowd last Thursday for the first session and, I think, it was an enthusiastic crowd, eager to hear and share the Word of God. From the responses, it seems the ChristLife program, of which Discovering Christ is the first part, will be a strong opportunity to experience the presence of Christ in our lives. Why do I say strong and not something else, like great. Basically, because the parish is about “strengthening” faith. Whether through the sacraments, liturgy (mass), or service, (the Nurturing Place, food drives), or community building, (MOMs, Cornerstone), or formation, (CCD, Adult Faith Formation), the parish is the place where the Catholic Christian has the opportunity to meet Christ, to encounter Him and to come to a deeper awareness of His presence in our lives. And so I pray that Discovering Christ will have a strong impact on the life of this community.

Thinking back on these last few months, these post- pandemic months, I see a budding attention to faith in our community. Maybe not an increase in fervor; that might be too strong a word. But a definite budding of attention to Christ’s desire to be more a part of our lives. I felt this as I attended most of the House Gatherings. I experienced it again in the Christmas liturgies and even in the slow but steady improvement in attendance at regular weekend Masses. I felt it in the parent sessions that are part of our religious education and formation programs. Maybe the pandemic reminded us, among many other truths, that there are things beyond our control, things, occurrences, events for which we need to turn to God for support, understanding and comfort, as we struggle to find our way through them.

The pandemic often makes me think about the situation of this faith community we call Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The other night we had to have a police call during the night in the Adoration Chapel and when the two officers arrived, I realized I knew them both as boys. Actually one as a newborn. It simply was another moment recently when I have thought a lot about these many years I’ve served here at Mount Carmel.

Over the course of these years, I have had the privilege of serving with many dedicated people, both clergy, religious and lay The “staff” have been, themselves, people of great faith and commitment to this community and the people of this community have been, and still are, people of great faith. I refrain from citing individuals because I might leave someone out but they have all contributed, in some way, to the strengthening of this faith community. During all these years, even with the ebb and flow of life’s circumstances and the inevitable changes that occur, the goal and driving force of everyone’s efforts has always been to help everyone realize that goal—to be strong in faith. And it had always been my vision to retire with the community, staff and congregation, continuing to strive for that goal.

With the transfer of Fr. de la Rama, Fr. Gino, in 2017 that changed. Without going into detail, that vision for the parish, especially in terms of the clergy, became more and more obscure. And with each successive change, it only worsened. I choose not to go into what life was like in the rectory during those days. Then came the pandemic and everyone, every person on the face of the planet, was faced with a reality that forced us to come to grips with limitations and restrictions which we could never have guessed. Through all these challenges, of personnel and pandemic, I did not think it the time to “escape” into retirement.

Mercifully, in God’s time, the Lord has chosen to deliver us, and me, from these circumstances of living with the pandemic restrictions and the personnel limitations. In His kindness, the Lord has opened the staff to priests who have pastoral zeal for the care of souls and for the strengthening of faith, priests who are dedicated to the growing of the experience of Christ in the lives of everyone in this parish community. Now I can truly say we are back on track to help one another make Christ more present in each of our lives, that together, we may be a community that reflects His love, within the community itself, and in the world.

You may, or may not, have realized that I have been receiving a one year extension to my pastorate here since 2018. I write to let you know that term has been extended by the Cardinal for another year, ending now on June 30, 2024. In the early years, 2018, 2019, I asked because of the priests’ changes and their impact on the parish. In these later years, 2020, 2021, 2022, it was the pandemic. Now, by God’s grace, both of these realities no longer dominate. I believe the parish is in the hands of a good servant/ leadership team with the vision of making it possible for each and every parishioner to grow in Christ. Since these extensions have come upon my request, I write you now to say I will not make that request again and, therefore, with the Cardinal’s permission, I will retire on July 1, 2024. Rather than keeping everyone guessing over the course of these next five months, I thought it only fair to let you know when I knew the time would be right. You are, and always have been, family and family deserve that honesty.

But we still have much to do together.

God bless,
Fr. Ron


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