january 9, 2022
For if the sacred liturgy holds first place in the life of the Church, then the Eucharistic Mystery stands at the heart and center of the liturgy, since it is the font of life that cleanses us and strengthens us to live not for ourselves but for God and to be united to each other by the closest ties of love.
– St. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, The Mystery of Faith 1965
St. Paul VI’s 1965 encyclical is a powerful reminder of the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. We are a Eucharistic people who gather week after week to greet the risen Lord in our midst. Around the altar you and I are privileged to have the most profound encounter in our lives: with Jesus Christ! It is strange to write my first letter to you as pastor without having the experience of celebrating Mass with all of you. I look forward in the ensuing weeks to gather with you at the celebration of the Eucharist.
You are the parishioners that are entrusted to me as we form our new parish. A parish that combines three former parishes: Christ the Bread of Life, Divine Mercy Parish, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. A parish which incorporates not only those three parishes but also the spiritual legacy of our former parishes of Blessed Sacrament, Ascension, St. Ann, St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, St. Rita, and St. Joan of Arc. We have four churches, two wonderful schools, a creative faith formation program, a cemetery, food pantries, strong parish based organizations, and a tradition of helping those in need. We have a wonderful tradition of love and devotion to our faith community. I am honored to be able to be part of this tradition and am humbled to shepherd this community into our next chapter.
We have a wonderful history and tradition here in Hamden, a tradition that I – as your new pastor – hope to build upon as we envision and grow our new parish community. I know that to you I am an idea or a thought. From my years of priesthood and the fact that Hamden is not far from Derby where I grew up, I know a surprisingly number of you, yet to the majority of this new parish I am the unknown factor, the new guy on the block. I know that you may wonder what I am planning, what I hope to accomplish here in Hamden. To that question all I can say is that our parish must be one that builds on the foundation of the past, but looks to the future. We must proclaim Christ both within our walls and beyond each and every day.
There are many questions that I have been asked already about Mass times or just about the day to day life of the new parish. I have no answers as of yet, except the obvious, we have many masses scheduled each week across our town. We have three priests assigned to the parish for now. There are also funerals, weddings and other celebrations that have to be covered. We need to listen to each other as we make these important decisions together. The first task I always set before me in a new assignment is to listen to our parishioners. Unfortunately, in this time of COVID a parish meeting seems to be out of the question. Perhaps in the ensuing weeks we can schedule a ZOOM meeting or a series of Zoom meetings to share our hopes and visions for the new parish.
Another aspect of parish life is finances. I have scheduled a meeting with the former Finance Councils and trustees of each of our three former parishes. We will together look to the future of our new parish in regard to financial viability. I will also like to appoint a Finance Committee of St. Paul VI parish that will advise me and the parish on these important issues.
I am happy to be with all of you here in Hamden. Your – ahem our – town is beautiful. During the weeks in December I was visiting Hamden quite a bit and saw her all dressed up for Christmas! I am looking forward to being your pastor.
Thank you for all you have done and will do for our parish.