Dear Friends in Christ,
Just some scattered thoughts this week.
Last Sunday afternoon, Fr. Sijo, Deacon David, and I gathered with many of you at St. Patrick Cemetery to visit and pray at the graves of your loved ones. I really felt in those moments that we were doing something truly great. Besides the prayer, what I particularly appreciated was hearing different parishioners talk about the persons for whom we were praying. “Father, these are my parents.” “Father, this is my son.” “Father, this woman here was very active at St. Patrick’s.” I also appreciated how close-knit the community is here and how you care for another. There were a lot of people and a lot of graves to be blessed, but everyone was so patient and kind. And, everyone seemed to know one another and know all the deceased. It seems strange to say that an outing to a cemetery made for a good day, but it really was a wonderful experience.
I want to thank Diane McCarthy and all of those who worked with her for organizing the Mass on November 2nd for all of those who died this past year. The first three times I visited St. Patrick Parish, as I was preparing to come here permanently, I noticed that there was always a hearse outside the church! There are a lot of funerals here. One of the corporal works of mercy is to bury the dead, and one of the spiritual works of mercy is to console the sorrowing. I am grateful for the way in which our parish clergy, staff, and parishioners dedicate themselves to these two important works of mercy. It really is impressive.
On November 3rd, I attended the Funeral Mass for Fr. Thomas Oates. Many of you may remember Fr. Oates when he assisted here. Fr. Oates was the first priest I ever lived with when I was a young college seminarian. When he was fifty-seven years old, he went to South America to work in the missions. His first assignment was in Bolivia and was often considered to be the nicest parish that the St. James Society had. After being there for several years, he requested to be transferred to the Society’s poorest parish in Ecuador. He was a priest who was well-read, who loved the poor, and who was very funny. There was always a twinkle in his eye. May he rest in peace.
In other news, one of the tasks that I need to attend to is reconstituting the Parish Finance Council. This consultative body assists the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish and helps to ensure accountability to the archbishop and to parishioners. When I was a pastor before, I had an excellent Finance Council and was really indebted to them for their excellent work. I hope to have a similar experience here at St. Patrick.
When you are new to a parish, you notice certain things. I have noticed that the Readers at Mass here are quite excellent. Believe me, that is not the case everywhere! Also, I notice that the ushers are wonderful. They make people who enter the church feel very welcome. Again, that is not always the case everywhere! Just an observation.
I hope you all have a great week ahead.
Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. David Barnes