(originally printed in the parish bulletin for Sunday, August 7th, 2011)
Dear Friends in Christ,
You may recall from a bulletin article in June that our parish has been facing some financial challenges, which resulted in a significant change in employee benefits provided by the parish. Unfortunately, due to those changes, my family and I are no longer able to support ourselves living in the Valley. After speaking with Fr. Randy this past week, I have submitted my resignation effective August 17th.
Catechist that I am, I hope you'll indulge me on some parting notes as you continue to move forward as a parish-- these admonitions have been of enormous value in my own life, and I hope that they will be of similar value to you:
• Never underestimate the power of Christ and his Sacraments. If you stay close to Him, especially in the Eucharist, then God is ready to pour out an overabundance of grace upon you. If you have never spent time with Jesus in Eucharistic adoration, then try it out-- He will change your life in ways you never imagined possible.
• Frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the sacrament, we are forgiven our sins and given the grace to persevere in future temptation. Make a habit of regular confession-- as I have told our 2nd graders: it's not unlike brushing your teeth! Make good habits. Go as a family.
• In the same breath, try and cultivate a love for the Church. Christ, in his wisdom, gave us a practical means of becoming Saints here in this life. The mystery that Christ's mystical body is composed of fallible people speaks to the omnipotence of God, and His perfect plan to bring us all to Heaven, even through others' imperfections. Don't apologize for the teachings of the Church, but rather, in faith, seek to understand them. The message of Christ is counter-cultural to what society would have us to believe.
• Finally, regardless of your vocation, seek to live out a Catholic family life-- whatever that family may be composed of. As parents, you are the first educators of your children, especially in the Faith. As children and youth, don't fear what God has planned for you some day, and embrace the challenges of the "rules" and teachings of the Faith, trusting that in God alone lies true freedom and happiness. Be prepared for a radical adventure, taking you places you would never have dreamed of. As adults, don't grow stagnant in your desire to learn new things, especially about this great Mystery of our Salvation; namely, Christ. Whether you are single or married, at the beginning of life or the end-- it is in this Community of Believers, as Catholics, gathered around the Sacraments of the Church, that you will be able to more fully live the extraordinary plan God has for each one of you.
As for next steps, in late August we will be moving to Austria, where I have been given a place in an advanced studies program at the International Theological Institute. For more information, visit: http://www.iti.ac.at
I want you to know that our time here at Our Lady of the Mountains has been a very joyous one, indeed. We have so enjoyed growing as a family alongside of you (just think-- when I first moved here, I was not yet married!), and will cherish the friendships that we have made here.
May God bless you, abundantly,