Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter | Pentecost | May 31, 2020

In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. 1 Corinthians 12:13

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Perhaps one of the graces of COVID-19 has been and will be an invitation for the human community to reach deep within our collective soul to discover anew what truly binds us together. The bond is not our common suffering but rather the Spirit of the Divine that is poured into all creation, all life, all people. Today the Church celebrates Pentecost, the giving of that Spirit once more, itself an invitation to remember this truth. 

Events in our country this past week remind us of how much work we have before us to help that Spirit of Oneness. That work must happen among us and within us, neither easy, and the latter essential to the former. One of my favorite philosopher-poets, United Methodist Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes, captures the uncomfortable, difficult work before each and all of us if few are ever to know the blessed oneness that God desires and intends for all of God’s creation.

One Body.

We are all fingers of one hand,
one Spirit moving through us
in all our different ways.
The lie that we are separate is our first sin.
Our denial does not negate our unity;
our obliviousness does not remove us
from the one body.
There is no other;
we are that one; they are us.

Unless we weep with those who weep,
or rage with those who rage, we betray the Spirit.
Until we ourselves are the one
lying handcuffed, black,
with a white person's knee on our throat
we do not have the Holy Spirit,
but the spirit of denial.
Until we see our own knee on that throat,
we blaspheme against the Spirit.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will awaken us
to our oneness,
that we may love our neighbor
as ourselves,
for that they are. 

Amen.

I believe that our communal experience these past months is a witness to the power of the Spirit to bind up and bind together in the face of many obstacles. It’s difficult to believe that this weekend marks 11 weeks since we began livestreaming our 10:00am Mass. As so much has been changing around us, we have done our best to live our lives as normally as possible, attending to the things that have timelines and deadlines that pay no attention to a pandemic. Whether it’s a four-year-old with a sudden appendicitis or a manuscript that is due, life moves forward.

The same is true in the parish. The primary focus has been our Sunday Eucharist and continued preparation for those who were scheduled to receive the Easter Sacraments. But much more has been happening behind the scenes. For example, we’re making plans to deliver our children’s faith formation online for the fall semester. (By the way, CFF has a new title,St. Ignatius Pilgrims, named after the patron of our parish who referred to himself as “the pilgrim” in his autobiography.) We also made a new hire – sort of.

I am very pleased to share with you that I have hired Maggie Warner as the Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Ignatius Parish, a new position which brings together those two sets of responsibilities. Of course, Maggie is familiar to us all, having been with us for three years as our Coordinator of Parish Worship, while she completed her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Liturgy at the Santa Clara Jesuit School ofTheology in Berkeley. (She’s also familiar because, in fact, she is the face and voice of our livestream Masses, leading us so well in prayer.) Prior to coming to California for her studies, Maggie served for eight years as the Director of Pastoral Music and Liturgy at St. Paul’s Newman Center in Laramie, WY. A trained violinist, Maggie has taught violin and has played with the Cheyenne and Wyoming Symphony Orchestras. All of this is, of course, in addition to her remarkable work with us these years, in which she has demonstrated leadership with volunteers and on the parish staff, facilitated or deepened parishioners’ relationships with one another and with the parish, shared her own faith with us, and been a good partner with me for vision for our parish. 

In the next weeks, we will be looking to hire fora part time position someone who has deep experience in liturgy and accompanying on the piano, plays the organ, and will be a complement to Maggie’s skills and a good partner for her so to continue the wonderful tradition of excellent worship and music at St. Ignatius Church.

At this time, I want to extend my gratitude to Brian DuSell, who stepped in to help us through Lent, Holy Week and most of the Easter season after our beloved Teresa DuSell (Brian’s wife, for those new to our community) stepped down in January. The breadth and depth of Brian’s musical knowledge, his great skill and his pastoral sensitivities were great gifts to us in his three and a half months with us; his talent was a balm in these times of COVID. Brian continues as AssociateDirector for Liturgy, Music, and Interfaith Programs at USF, so I look forward to future collaboration.

Be assured of my continued prayers for you and your loved ones, that you are healthy and safe and for your intentions. And until we are together again, let us continue to

oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg