Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter--August 25, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Two weeks ago I preached about St. Ignatius’s invitation to those who follow Jesus to be Contemplatives in Action. That is to say that we are called to share Jesus’ life, to think like him, to hold important in ourselves what he values, and to do what he does. Developing a relationship of this depth with Jesus comes with a habit of regular prayer and reflection. That’s the Contemplative part. The Action part, for Ignatius, who did not want to found another monastic order, is a natural consequence of contemplation: as we experience God’s love for us, the natural outcome is the desire to love in return, and, as Ignatius reminds, love shows itself more in deeds than in words. Charity, mercy, the pursuit of justice, compassion are all the natural consequences of having first been loved by God. Contemplatives in Action.

In that homily, I shared a list of ten principles by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., that guide his understanding of God. I think that they are useful because they highlight in plain terms God’s goodness and attractiveness, making God someone we might want to spend more time contemplating. I share them here because a number of people have asked for them (and, for once, Google didn’t serve them up!).

1. God's insight and understanding surpass our own.

2. God's compassion and forgiveness surpass our own.

3. God respects nature, our human make-up, and our innate tendencies and inclinations.

4. God is a parent that blesses, not a threatened parent.

5. God can handle our questions and doubts and angers.

6. God reads the heart and can tell the difference between actions that come from wounds and those from malice.

7. God gives us more than one chance, opening another door every time we close one.

8. God desires our salvation and the salvation of our loved ones more than we do.

9. God is the author of all that is good.

10. God can, and does, descend into hell to help us.

As I did two weeks ago, I encourage you to notice which one of those principles touched your heart and pray with it this week. Then you could choose another next week, and then … :-)

On another note, you have probably noticed a few new faces around the parish. The first is Ms. Teresa Cariño, our new Director of Faith Formation. Teresa is an alumna of both St. Ignatius College Prep and USF, where she earned a B.A. in Theology & Religious Studies. After graduating, she spent a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, living in NYC and working as a tenant organizer. The four years prior to coming to our St. Ignatius Parish, Teresa was at the St. Ignatius Parish in Manhattan, where she was responsible for Youth and Young Adult ministries. She brings a great deal of experience! Maggie Warner, our Coordinator for Worship, was attending the Jesuit ordinations on the east coast in June, where she heard from Jesuits various versions of, “How did you guys get Teresa Cariño?!” and “Do you know that she has the best young adult program on the east coast?” and “You are so lucky!” I prefer the word “blessed.”

The other new face you’ve likely seen belongs to Fr. Travis Russell, S.J., our new Associate Pastor. Originally from Sutherlin, Oregon, Travis was ordained this past June in Portland. He entered the former California Province in 2008, a year after earning his B.S. in Global Security and Intelligence Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. As a Jesuit, Travis has worked with the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, which does spiritual formation for and advocacy on behalf of prisoners; Cook County, IL Juvenile Detention Center; the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malawi; and Verbum Dei Jesuit High School in Los Angeles. While earning his Master of Divinity from Boston College, he served as a deacon at St. Mary of the Angels in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. About a dozen parishioners from there traveled to Portland to be with Travis when he was ordained. When I introduced myself to them, I was given what felt like a command to take good care of him; I promised them we would! And I had an experience while there that was similar to Maggie’s. Again, from Jesuits, “How come you guys got Travis?” and “We thought that we were going to get him.” and “You guys are so lucky!” Again, “blessed.”

I am very excited to have Teresa and Travis on our staff. I look forward to all the great things that God will do through them and their ministries.

Finally, I hope you have noticed the new kneelers in the church. To date, we have replaced all the missing and broken ones, and our plan is to replace the remaining kneelers as needed or when we have the money. Great care was taken in their design, both so that they look like they are of a century ago and that the hardware lasts. I’m told the padding is more comfortable, and I love that they don’t bang when being put up or down. (Reminder: The old kneelers are that–old. Please treat them gently.)

Have a great week!

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg