Pastoral Letter: New Faces for a New Year

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

One of the pre-pandemic routines most precious to me was going to my mailbox in the office after the generous parishioners who count the Sunday collection and the candle income for the week had left. Each Monday afternoon I’d find there a stack of empty “Candle Offering” envelopes rubber banded together, which I tucked into my briefcase and put on my prayer table in my bedroom. Over the course of the week, I carefully read through the anonymous intentions written on the envelopes, praying them on behalf of those who made them: “Blessings from the Lord Jesus & Mary to my family.” “That I get that job offer.” “For X. RIP.” “Please guide me through a safe & healthy pregnancy.”

I cannot tell you how happy I am that the envelopes are back: “A successful 1st yr. college.” “In loving memory for my Dad who passed away last year.” Prayers for the X family.” “For the elimination of Covid virus.”

The people and intentions you carry in my hearts expand my own. Your intentions broaden my horizon, and they illuminate my vision. I feel more deeply connected to you, which I relish. I was keenly aware throughout the pandemic that I missed you, but these envelopes help me feel that afresh, and it wells up as gratitude for you and for my ministry. Although the Delta variant has dampened our enthusiasm somewhat and made us rightly cautious once more, your envelopes give me great consolation. Thank you.

As many are aware, we are beginning this new year with some significant transitions, having lost two very valuable members of the staff. Teresa Cariño, our Director of Faith Formation these past two years, has taken a job at the Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton where she will teach and coordinate student immersion trips. Among her many contributions to St. Ignatius were two discernment series, one on immigration during Lent 2020 and another on racial justice throughout the winter and spring of 2021. The other departure, Eloisa Tejero, our Finance Manager, is taking a sabbatical from work. During her three years with us, Eloisa guided our important transition to Salesforce. She was also key in helping us to bring people back to Mass in the church in ways that kept us safe. Both women are talented, creative, dedicated and generous. I will miss their voices at staff meetings, to be sure, but their fingerprints will be found around the parish for a long time to come. We wish them all God’s best and look forward to seeing them around the parish, as both remain parishioners of St. Ignatius.

Finding worthy successors should have been daunting, but I now have one more proof for the existence of the Holy Spirit. (Not that I needed any more …) I am very happy to tell you that parishioner Lisa Freese has come on board part-time to run the Pilgrims/Children's Faith Formation and Confirmation programs. Lisa has been a member of St. Ignatius for three years and has been engaged in most liturgical ministries at SIP; she also taught our fifth grade Pilgrims last year. Critical to note that Lisa also has unofficially served as a Director of Religious Ed when teaching CCD in some of her overseas parishes. (Did I mention the Holy Spirit?)

(While I’m here, let me take this opportunity to encourage parents to register your pre-K through eighth grade children in Pilgrims/CFF or Confirmation. You can do so here.)

To manage our finances, we have hired contractor Lynette Dacay, whose accounting firm specializes in non-profits. Lynette has worked with other parishes in the Archdiocese and understands well the relationship between parishes and the ADSF. She also has deep experience in managing capital projects, which is important with a church as magnificent as ours! She comes very highly recommended by a fellow pastor, and I am very pleased and feel very blessed to have her on board.

Also joining us this week, is Emily McFarland, who begins in the position of Director of Development. She will be replacing Alcee Metevier, who has temporarily filled the job since February. Emily received her undergraduate education at Santa Clara University and her Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. For the past six years, she was been the Director of Stewardship at St. John’s Ross Episcopal Church, where she has directed annual fund and capital campaigns, coordinating and training parishioner volunteers. Emily is steeped in her craft, and our parish will be blessed by her presence and talent among us.

Finally, after finishing his year-long sabbatical, Fr. John Whitney, S.J., arrived this week. I introduced Fr. John in a pastoral letter back in June, which you can access here. You will see him around the parish this weekend and begin presiding the following weekend. (We will have a guest preacher for World Mission Sunday that last weekend in August.)

Lots of new people to welcome and get to know. I look forward to your meeting them in the coming weeks and even more to their meeting you, so they come to know and love you as much as I do. Let us pray for them as they begin their ministries at St. Ignatius Parish, and, as always,

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Greg