Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter-May 19, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Though not an academic institution, our parish lives by an academic calendar. As schools and students and parents look to the end of this year, so do we. And like most families and institutions at this time of the year, we have our share of changes and goodbyes.

Mark Diamond, our Director of Faith Formation, is leaving us after three years. We stole him from a similar position at St. Gabriel’s in the Sunset to replace Dan Faloon, who had been with us for 17 years. Mark, per his personality, wasted no time in building upon Dan’s work. Especially important has been the bridge he has strengthened between our parish and USF students, who are the majority of our catechists. These young, committed Catholics are such good role models for our young people, living out their relationships with Jesus in ways that are attractive and compelling. Mark also reimagined our bookstore, making it a very successful destination gift shop for religious goods, spiritual and theological books, and more. There are three things, however, that I will miss most about Mark. First, his generosity. For example, when there is silence at a staff meeting in response to the question, “Who’ll do that,” Mark’s voice sounds, “I will.” Second, his drive. Mark and I have usually agreed on the goal of a particular project or program, but the ways we are naturally inclined to get there are different. We had our moments, ending sometimes with me on his side, sometimes with him on my side, and often with both of us in the middle. Third, his New Jersey-ness. I love his quick, sharp-but-kind humor, and my vocabulary will not grow as interestingly as it has while working with him. (Have you ever heard of “agita?” I hadn’t. You can actually Google it.)

Mark is with us until mid-August, and we will fête him appropriately closer to that time. But I want to let you know now in the event his next chapter begins before you get back from your summer break. (And please keep the search for his successor in your prayers; we have some excellent candidates.)

Also leaving us is Samantha “Sam” Sidwell. Sam was a volunteer at our reception desk for nearly two years before she took over for Sr. Theresa Moser as our Administrator for baptisms, marriages, and funerals. That position is very much the “front face” of the parish to people who call, and she represented our faith community well. In the too-short six months she was with us, Sam made herself invaluable, and the thought of her no longer at staff meetings is a sad one. Sam and her family have been members of our parish for seven years, since her husband Scott became the Athletic Director at USF. She joined him earlier this week in State College, PA; he is the new Assistant AD at Penn State. Sam, we’ll miss you, and we wish you all God’s best.

Stepping into that role is a face very familiar to all of us. In my thank-yous at the end of the seven weeks that is Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, I acknowledged the “grown-up altar boy” who MCs our big liturgies, Don Crean. Don will continue as MC as a parishioner, but he’ll also be a member of the parish staff. Don was Director of Liturgy at St. Ignatius for six years, before moving over to USF for 11 years as the Associate Director of Resident Ministry. We’re thrilled to have him back with us. Welcome [again], Don!

Finally, this week we begin our essay series, What I Hope For Our Parish & What I Am Doing About It, which I introduced last Sunday. As I said then, these are a first step toward noticing, together, how God is calling us to be Church in this time and in this place. It is a reflection for each and all of us. I invite you to take the questions below to your prayer. Through some yet-to-be-determined mechanism, I will ask for your insights, for the fruit of your prayer. Stay tuned!

In the meantime,

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg

What I Hope For Our Parish & What I Am Doing About It--Questions for Reflection:

*  What adjectives describe the kind of faith community I seek?  What gifts do I have to help create that parish?

*  What would help me to feel deeply that I belong to St. Ignatius Parish?  How can I help others feel like they belong?

*  What do I need in order to grow in my spiritual life, in my relationship with Jesus?  What gifts do I have to offer others to help them in their spiritual lives?

*  What can our parish offer that will help guide me toward deeper meaning in my life?  How can I help others to find that?

*  What do I need from St. Ignatius to be the person that I believe God wants me to be?  How can I help others to be the people God wants them to be?

*  How can St. Ignatius Parish help me respond more fully to the call of the Corporal Works of Mercy?  

   How can I help others respond to them?

*  Are there justice issues that God is calling me to attend to?  What gifts do I bring to that/those project/s?

*  What are the unarticulated, fundamental human longings that we live with in this 21st century that the Gospel calls St. Ignatius Parish to address? How will I help our parish     become a place that addresses those longings?