Dear parishioners of Saint Philip’s,
“First you will see me, then you will not see me, then you will see me again.” With these words Our Lord refers to His Paschal Mystery and instructs us to look forward in hope to His coming again at the final judgment. In a less serious vein, these words apply very well to my own life here among you, the blessed people of God at Saint Philip’s. You have seen me come from military duty, and then depart for Iraq, and then return to you again. And through it all you accepted with faith, persevered in hope, and supported with prayers and actions of love. You have been a tremendous solace, an example, and a true family of faith.
“I am a pilgrim on the earth, like all my fathers before me”. These words of the Psalms well describe the life each one of us enter into upon our baptism as people of faith who do not find here on earth a lasting city. Our thoughts are above, with Christ the Lord, seated at God’s right hand. Archbishop Wuerl has invited me to set out again as a pilgrim and so it is time to bid you “arrivederci” once more. The Archdiocese is rich in people but sometimes not so wealthy when it comes to workers for the vineyard. For this reason our leaders must be careful to distribute God’s gifts prudently and wisely among His people. This often necessitates the transfer of our priests. I promised obedience to Cardinal Hickey, and all his successors, at my ordination. In this, as in all matters of obedience, it is the Lord whom I truly serve and obey. In this way I also truly serve His people in a more generous expression of His love.
As people of Faith, we above all others have a right to say: ”See you again!” We sincerely mean it, as we all look forward to our heavenly home reunion at the end of our pilgrim way on earth. I say the same, and truly hope that you will come for a visit with my new family at Saint Peter’s in Olney.
I have often told you in jest, and I say it again now, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now” as our Lord did upon departing from His Apostles. How wonderful are the riches of wisdom, knowledge and grace that the Lord has yet to reveal to us in the journey ahead! For this reason we are hopeful in Christ, as our Holy Father Benedict so beautifully and so often invites us to be. May He always be your hope and mine, all the days of our lives!
Arrivederci, “Until we see each other again”,
Photo: Patronal window in Saint Philip's rectory chapel.