Pastoral Letter: My Gratitude

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

When my day came an end this past Sunday, I felt deep joy, immense gratitude and a little bit of “Oh, my goodness. Are we really here?” To me, the weekend had felt like a pre-Covid weekend, with a flurry of activity that was difficult to keep up with. Indeed, much of the previous week was that way.

It began with the Requiem Mass the previous Tuesday, a relatively new tradition at St. Ignatius Parish, commemorating our beloved deceased at Mass with a musical setting of the Requiem. This year we premiered Matthew Coleridge’s 2016 Requiem with a live choir and musicians, and we gathered both in person and online to pray this beautiful liturgy together. This after too many big liturgies with fewer than 10 people in church and hundreds gathered online.

Saturday morning witnessed the resumption of Sandwich Saturday, a decades-old ministry at St. Ignatius. About 10 parishioners gathered for a few hours in the parish kitchen to make 200 sandwiches, which were then sent over to St. Vincent de Paul’s Multi-Service Center where they were given to drop-ins who needed some warmth and sustenance. This will happen every first Saturday once again!

At the same time, dozens gathered online for the three-hour Racial Justice Retreat, which was carefully prepared over many weeks by parishioners for parishioners and friends of the parish. It is part of the long thread of programs and activities around the issues of racial justice that began at St. Ignatius in the early months of the pandemic.

That afternoon, the kitchen hosted other parishioners, this time to begin preparation for a brunch for young adults in our parish, 26 of whom gathered in the church sanctuary after the 10 a.m. Mass for food and fellowship, the start of a new ministry at St. Ignatius Parish.

Sunday also saw a winter coat drive in which more than 50 garments were donated and delivered to Most Holy Redeemer Parish to be distributed to people in need. Many gathered at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes for coffee and cookies and fellowship after the 10 a.m. Mass. At the same time, our children were online in their faith formation classes, and the 14 adults and their sponsors in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program were together in person. (These are studying to complete their Catholic sacraments, preparing to be baptized as Catholic Christians, or are already baptized in another Christian tradition and will become Catholic).

Another event last week that I think was important to our parish life was a staff day of reflection last Thursday, the first in more than two years. While we have held staff meetings in person off and on since June, depending on the pandemic, it was the first time we had set aside some substantial time to share and to listen deeply to one another, to hear the stories of how God has been active in our lives and called us each in varied ways to St. Ignatius. It was an important moment for us – and, thus, for our parish – as we grew in trust and affection for one another. And you must know how blessed I feel and our parish is that these talented, generous, and faithful people are the professional staff of our faith community. We are truly, truly blessed.

I am very excited about where God is leading us and what God wants for us. The lay leadership of our parish, along with the staff, will be listening and learning together in the months to come in order to better discern what that is. Stay tuned for updates on some parish strategic planning and on how St. Ignatius Parish will be engaging the Synod on Synodality (how the Church can be better at listening and accompanying the people, especially those in most need) that Pope Francis is asking of the universal Church in the coming months.

I will be on retreat from the Sunday to the following Saturday up at Abbey of the Redwoods in Whitethorn, California. The Trappist nuns are the very same who make the Creamed Honey available in our bookstore. Good women and good friends. Please know I will pray for you and your intentions during my retreat. Please say one for me.

Blessings,

Fr. Greg