Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter-February 10, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

As you know, five parishioners from St. Ignatius, five parishioners with Fr. Ray from St. Agnes, and I are engaged in a discernment process guided by Fr. George Murphy, S.J., former rector and current professor and spiritual director at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.  The question before us is, “What pastoral and administrative structures are necessary for the Jesuits to maintain their presence in two vibrant, distinct parishes in San Francisco with one pastor?” (N.B. The provincial has assured me that I am assigned to St. Ignatius “indefinitely.”)  We had our third meeting last Sunday, and all participants agree that the quality and depth of conversation, as well as the openness and trust among the group are remarkable.

The subjects of conversation in our last two meetings were the logs that Fr. Ray and I kept for ourselves over the course of a month, in order to get a good sense of how we spend our time.  The questions that focused our discussions were “What three things recorded in the logs are essential to the role of the pastor?” and “What three things can be delegated?”  Not surprisingly, prayer, time for homily prep, and time for pastoral care and visits were at the top of the list of essentials.  Variations on “administrative duties” dominated the list of things that can be delegated.  Our next step is to look at other roles on the two staffs.

Part of the individual preparation for each meeting is to reflect on how we see God active in our respective parishes.  We then take the first portion of our time together sharing our experiences and observations.  It’s a delight to have learned more about the good things that God is doing at St. Agnes, and it’s helpful for me to hear how my fellow parishioners experience God’s activity in our faith community.  To be honest, I found that exercise extraordinarily consoling.  One of our parishioners talked about a week spent at the U.S.-Mexican border working with migrants, as part of a delegation from both parishes.  Another mentioned that in the past month, half a dozen adults have joined the RCIA program, seeking to become Catholic.  I continue to receive emails from members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus whose experience here in October has led them back to the Church.  Nearly 200 parishioners and friends gathered to eat lasagna and play Bingo last Saturday night and had so. much. fun.  St. Ignatius parishioners were extraordinarily generous with the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal, which, for many, doesn’t have much. And there was more.

I find all of this consoling in light of the difficulties experienced over the past few months in the Church. Despite all that and the continued need to address some very real and critical issues, God is doing so many very good things for us, in us, among us, and through us.  It is a temptation not to stop and notice that.  And to savor it.  It’s something that each of us should ask ourselves at least a couple of times each day: “Where is God working hard in my life?  How has God brought some light into the world today?”

Yes, God is good.  Always.

I do want to double back and thank all those who worked very hard to provide that very fun evening of Pasta & Bingo.  The decorations, the lasagna and desserts, the prizes, the hospitality, the caller, the organization, the bartenders, and more–all of it generously prepared and provided.  My sincere gratitude to all of you.

God bless you all and St. Ignatius Parish.

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Greg