Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Open Letter to the Parishes of St Catherine and St Rose

Words of encouragement in a time of transition.

There are certain transitions in life that give us the opportunity to look forward and reflect upon the goals we desire to achieve and the mission of being Catholic that we have embarked upon. My transfer to St Catherine of Siena in Petersburg and St Rose of Lima in Wrangell effective 17 September 2010, is one of those occasions. I am returning to you after five years as the Rector of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Juneau. Trusting humbly in the Holy Spirit I move on to this next assignment, desiring to give priestly service to the people of the Parishes of St Catherine, St Rose, and the wider communities as best as I am able.

I am looking forward to reconnecting with each parish family and the larger communities of Petersburg and Wrangell. I have many fond memories of spending time with people building relationships and growing in holiness and wholeness during my year as your interim pastor in 2004-2005. I was with you just two years after ordination and you helped me grow in my priestly identity preparing me for my recent assignment as Rector of our Cathedral.

In the years I have been away from you I have grown a beard and fallen deeper in love with the art of preaching. By God’s grace I have been given an ability to preach with passion, humor, joy, and my odd imagination that can gabs us all (myself included) by our very bones and rattle us to pay attention to God’s word. I often experience the Parables of Jesus like a glass of cold water to the face—waking me up to my responsibilities as a Catholic Christian. Because I have begun to allow God’s word to shake my own spirit the Gospel message of Love and Shalom can begin to take hold in our lives and move us to action. The Shalom of God calls us to be in right relationship with God, ourselves, our neighbor, and all of creation. It is in surrendering to God’s love for us, that God can take away our stony hearts, loosening our bonds of sin through God’s forgiveness and letting God’s love shine out of our brokenness.

It will be in the regular cycle of the Liturgical Year, Sunday after Sunday, when we gather for worship of our great God, that healing and new life will come to all of us. As the Second Vatican Council continues to teach us: Christ is truly present in the Gathered Assembly, the Word of God Proclaimed, in the priest as head of the assembly, and most beautifully in the His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity offered to us in the Eucharist. I look forward to celebrating with you.

St Paul acknowledges throughout his writings that his mission is larger than himself. That he only plays a small role in God’s plan. It was given to him by the Lord, and it is God who has equipped him with the strength to carry it out. Because Paul’s mission is larger than himself, he needed co-workers. I am looking forward to building on the good work begun by you and Fr Pat Casey, OMI. Together we can work to build the Kingdom of God and have beautiful thriving parishes enabled by the Holy Spirit to share God’s Love and Shalom with the world.

The Gospels tell us that what is important is our willingness to remain a member of Christ’s group of disciples, knowing full well that it leads to suffering and death, yet confident that it promises resurrection and new life. Being a Catholic Christian is hard work at all times and especially in a time of transition. Change is tough, yet change means there is the promise of new life. In the last decade we have experienced the Pascal Mystery in the Church universal and here locally in Petersburg and Wrangell. We are called as Catholic-Christians to live radically different lives witnessing to the treasure that we posses in our relationship with Jesus—our intimate communion with God. We are often the only witness to God’s love that many people will ever meet. Let us be a joyful one.

To help our hearts grow strong in the faith let us take care of ourselves in this transition. Make time to pray, reflect, and retreat in the midst of all the distractions this world throws at us. In the silence we will find that God is at the very deepest center of our being, and that God is deliriously in love with each of us. I look forward to teaching you Centering Prayer, one of my many favorite ways to pray by “resting in God.” Let us trust in the Holy Spirit that our community has all the gifts it needs to accomplish the mission given to it by God. Let us fall in love with God’s Word to us in Scripture and in Creation, studying it as if our life depended on it—because it does.

I have grown tremendously as a priest and human being over the last five years. For that gift I am grateful to the Cathedral Parish and the people of Juneau. My prayer for you and for me is that our best years are yet ahead of us here in Petersburg and Wrangell.

Let us pray for each other,
Love and Shalom,

Fr. Thomas J. Weise
Mobile: (907) 209-7307

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