May 5, 2019

This time of year is always filled with life in our parishes. So much is celebrated during these days of the Easter Season. In the coming days and weeks, First Communion will be celebrated at St. Thomas, St. Joseph and Our Lady Star of the Sea. Confirmation will be celebrated at St. Thomas next week. This is also the month when we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and pray for our mothers.

We also renew our commitment to the wider Church this time of the year through the Annual Catholic Appeal. I am grateful for the support we have given over the years in our three communities for the more than 60 ministries that are funded through our gifts to the Appeal. And I know that support will continue this year.

This is also the time of year when we begin the transition process in our faith communities. Last weekend we said good-bye to Deacon Ben Bray who completed his weekend assignment with us for this school year. Deacon Ben has only a couple of weeks of school left at Mt. Angel and then will begin preparing for priesthood ordination at St. James Cathedral on June 22nd. It was a pleasure to have Deacon Ben with us this past year, as he shared his presence and his preaching in all three of our communities.

Next week will be Val Park’s last week with us. It has been a joy to have Val with us for his pastoral year this year. He has been such a gift to us. His gentle spirit and his thoughtful reflections have touched many of us. He has had a special impact on those in RCIA and Youth Ministry this year. Val will spend the summer in Mexico before heading back to Mt. Angel in August to begin his third year of theology studies.

As you know, Fr. Michael will also be transitioning to a new parish to become a Priest Administrator on July 1. We have been uniquely blessed by his ministry with us these past two years. This is an exciting time for him, even though it will be difficult for us to see him leave. We know that he is ready for this new stage in his ministry and that the community to which the Archbishop has assigned him will be truly blessed.

We also know that our communities will experience a transition with my ministry. On July 1st, St. Thomas and Our Lady Star of the Sea will have a new pastor, and I will return to full-time ministry at St. Joseph.

I can safely say for Deacon Ben, Val, Fr. Michael, and me, that even though these are good transitions, the hardest part is saying good-bye to the people we have been privileged to minister with. Relationships are what parish life is all about, and we have all been blessed by the rich faith that has rooted these relationships with all of you.

There is one transition that we will be experiencing in the Archdiocese of Seattle that we did not expect. Archbishop Sartain will be retiring early because of a chronic back condition that he has struggled with for several years now.

The Pope has appointed Archbishop Paul Etienne (AY-chin) to succeed Archbishop Sartain. Archbishop Etienne is currently the Archbishop of Anchorage, and will be coming to Seattle as what is known as the Coadjutor Bishop. That means that he will work with Archbishop Sartain for several months and then, at a time to be determined, will succeed him as Archbishop.

This is another transition that will be very hard, but also very good. It is always hard to say good-bye to an Archbishop, especially when he has to leave his ministry early because of health issues. At the same time, it is good that Archbishop Sartain will be able to slow down and really focus on taking care of himself.

So, during these wonderful days of the Easter Season, let us give thanks for the new life that is emerging in sacraments of initiation, in the vibrant ministries of the Church in Western Washington, and in the transitions that promise new beginnings.

May God continue to bless you abundantly,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni