March 31, 2022
Dear friends in Christ,
As I approach my final days as your parochial administrator, I wanted to share with you my last departure letter, when I was re-assigned from St. John the Baptist in 2017. In many ways, the vision from then holds true.
“As I move to my new assignment this week at St. Agnes Church and School and St. John Vianney Seminary, I do so with some sadness, knowing that I leave the most welcoming, reverent, and faithful parish that I have ever known. And though it seems that we’re just getting to know each other after these two years, I can see God’s providence in this move.
We learned in seminary that the Gospels did not originally have chapter divisions. The Gospels were simply continuous narratives. But some passages mark unmistakable transitions. For instance, this Sunday’s Gospel according to St. Luke reveals that, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem. . .”. That journey was the beginning of his Passion. He made this journey intending to follow the Father’s will. Thus, I, like all disciples must go where the Father leads, especially when it is revealed to me by one of the successors of the apostles, namely Bishop Cozzens.
Jesus then reveals that “the son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” The disciples’ life in this world is always marked by impermanence of place. Pastors and vicars tend to leave parishes just when they are becoming comfortable. But this is no tragedy. Comfort is not a high value in the Christian life. Detachment for the sake of the Gospel is.
Jesus then shows the urgency of his call, telling a would-be disciple to leave behind the care for his father for the sake of the proclaiming the Good News. The work that I have to do at St. Agnes and St. John Vianney college seminary is quite urgent. But it is no less urgent at St. John the Baptist Church and School. Just as Jesus was heading into strong headwinds, we as a Church have great suffering ahead of us in the years to come.
Several decades hence, I can imagine far fewer supporters of their local churches. But there may be many more people who find themselves rootless and searching for God. I have a dream that St. John the Baptist Church will be a regional center of faith, hope and love for many generations to come. Like a voice crying out in the wilderness, this church and school will help people encounter Christ and the Eucharist when they stand in dire need of meaning and hope. But the legacies, spiritual and material, that you leave in these years and months will have been a necessary condition for that hopeful future. Please continue to invest generously in this parish with your prayers and contributions.”
That my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete,
Father Andy Jaspers