Message from Father Jay – April 23, 2021

Feast of St. George, Martyr

Dear Ones in Christ,

Even though I know most of you have already heard, I want to share with all of you that last Sunday, April 18, I announced my retirement to the parish. It also happened to be the date when, 29 years ago, I made my Profession of Faith and was received into the Roman Catholic Church. I have been planning for a number of years to retire at 70, and I hit that momentous age on April 2. Also, on May 19 of this year I will celebrate my 20th anniversary of ordination. In that time, I have served in two dioceses under four bishops in eight different parishes. That means that I have usually served an average of two and a half years in each of those assignments. The longest assignment I’ve had was five years, and the shortest one was eleven months. Now, having celebrated my 70th birthday, I recognize my own weariness, and am ready to lay the burden down. I have loved the years of my priesthood more deeply than I can tell you. In all those years, I have met and had fellowship with some of the most wonderful, faith-filled and loving people, and it has been a privilege to labor among them all. Of course, public ministry certainly has its share of challenges, and I’ve known a number of those throughout these years myself. Still, these have been very full and enriching years for me, and when I retire on June 30th, I will honestly be able to say that I have no regrets about saying my “Yes” to the Lord when He called me to this life.

My favorite Broadway musical was the hit musical comedy Wicked. There is one song in particular that has been in my heart as I think about my time in ministry. I want to share a large portion of that song with you:

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives
For a reason,
Bringing something we must learn,
And we are led to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true,
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes the sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood,
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part,
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me,
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now, whatever way our stories end,
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea,
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood,
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better
But because I knew you.

Because I knew you.

I have been changed for good.

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I’ve done, you blame me for.

But then I guess
We know there’s blame to share.

And none of it seems to matter anymore.
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes the sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood,
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better . . .

And because I knew you.

Because I knew you.

Because I knew you,
I have been changed
For good.

- Stephen Lawrence Schwartz

I will be sharing more with you in the coming days. Every time a pastor moves to a new assignment or retires, there are changes that are bound to take place in the parish he leaves. Of course, that will happen here at St. Frances Cabrini as well. May I ask one thing of all of you? When you hear about any changes, please don’t jump to any conclusions. Far too often, people will start talking, and rumors can start flying. In just these few days, I’ve already heard some real doozies! In reality, there are only two people you should be listening to concerning any possible changes here, and those two are Bishop Weisenburger and myself. If you hear anything from anybody else, please, just let it go. I will always try to keep you updated as soon as I concretely know anything that concerns our parish.

I know this is a long, long email today. Maybe it’ll make for gentle reading this evening after your dinner. Please know that you are always in my heart. Pray for me, as I pray for you.

Your brother in Christian love,

Fr. Jay