I am happy to be with you again in the Catholic Courier after an absence which extends back to my hip surgery in early May. Thanks be to God, the medical and rehab people, and the prayers of people like you, the experience has been most gratifying. My hip is better than ever — a peaceful vacation helped all of that a great deal.
It’s good to be back. The continuing joy that is ministry has been much in my awareness even in these early days of August.
On Saturday evening and Sunday, I joined with the people of Transfiguration Parish in Pittsford to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of that wonderful community. Father Jerry Appelby was its founding pastor. A skilled and devoted pastoral minister, Jerry wanted to serve a parish that had a lively sense of lay participation, a strong commitment to the Gospel and sense of mission that would extend the care of the community well beyond parish borders.
That Jerry was instrumental in the formation of a parish community which is committed to those goals is recognized by all who are familiar with the parish. But Jerry is the first to say that none of it would have happened without the active support and encouragement of the women and men who were the pioneers of the parish and of those who have come after them.
Father Mike Bausch, the second pastor of Transfiguration, in his gracious comments at the conclusion of the jubilee liturgy, recognized the contributions of Jerry and the founding mothers and fathers of the parish. What he did not say, but what I would like to say here, is that Mike lost not a single beat in picking up where Jerry left off. He has brought his own style and pastoral approach to the life of the parish — and they are different from Jerry’s — but he has been rock solid in his commitment to the core values around which the parish has developed such warmth and vitality.
Though I won’t get into names, I do want to thank all of the parishioners from Transfiguration whom I have met over the years, and in whom I have found a willingness to share their time, talent and treasure for the benefit of the diocesan church and, in particular, for sisters and brothers in need. These individuals may well have offered the same gifts wherever they were, but I do believe that their inclination to such stewardship has only been enhanced by their formative experience of their parish community.
As I write these words, stimulated by the experience of this past weekend, I am mindful that we are blessed with many pastors and parish communities whose good works are no less generous or far reaching than those of Transfiguration. They are large parishes and small parishes — in all parts of the diocese, parishes who are materially richly blessed and others whose resources are more modest.
My fond hope through the unfolding seasons of Spirit Alive! is that we’ll all make the efforts we can to invite those who have dropped away from our faith community to come and see what’s happening. Even more important — they will encourage them to recommit, to become involved, to share the joy of what a lively, loving parish can do — not only for its members but for all who need support or seek direction for their lives.
What do you think you might do to invite another to participate in the life of the parish you love?
Peace to all.