May 24, 2020
As most of you know by now, I will be leaving Holy Spirit Parish and moving to St. Simon’s Parish in Los Altos as pastor there effective July 1st. I know this news is hard to hear and it was very difficult for me to share with the community via live stream last Sunday. After 16+ years as your pastor, it is profoundly difficult to leave in these pandemic circumstances. It can be hard to comprehend why this is happening, so please let me explain so you can more fully understand.
It was expected that I would move this summer, 2020 as I have been at Holy Spirit Parish for over 16 years. For twelve of those years, I held a second job at the Diocese as Vicar General and then as Special Advisor to the Bishop. Because of the second job I was allowed to remain beyond the typical term of a pastor which is 6 years that is sometimes renewed for an additional 6 years.
Then the coronavirus pandemic happened, and the bishop felt that moving pastors now was not a good idea. He asked the 4 priests planning to retire to remain for another year and all readily agreed. With two priests returning from studies and sabbatical, he only needed two of the four retiring priests to remain. It seemed that everything was in order and he allowed the current pastors to announce on Easter Sunday that we would remain for another year. Thus, I made that announcement much to the community’s delight.
However, when it came to the details of moving, it became problematic to ask some retiring priests to remain and others to retire. The bishop asked me if I would be willing to move July 1 to St. Simon’s Parish. At first, I was reluctant given the current challenges with the anxiety and struggles people have with this whole situation. But when he told me he was planning to name Fr. Ritche Bueza as my successor, I said yes.
Fr. Ritche is a good friend of mine and I know him very well. He is an experienced pastor of 10+ years and a great collaborator. Both of his previous parishes had schools and he was very present to the school. He and I share the same vision of Church of the people partnering with the priests to lead the community. He is an excellent presider and preacher, many of you have experienced him over the years as a visiting priest. Simply put, he is the best successor for me. This decision was not easy. I prayed hard and long about it and came to the conclusion that this is the Lord’s will at this time for Fr. Ritche and me.
Having said all that, it does not take away the pain of departure. I have served you and with you for 16+ years. I have loved you and you have loved me and that love does not die with my departure. I will take your love with me and I will leave my love with you. There is a piece of my heart here and there is a place in my heart for Holy Spirit parish. We will continue to love each other from a distance. I will always remember you in my daily prayers and I ask you to remember me in your prayers.
When someone departs, we would normally have a farewell party and in doing so, it would give us the opportunity to celebrate the years together and to mourn the loss. We will not be able to do that in a formal and in-person setting but we will get creative and find a way to say good-bye. I need that and you need it. We need some closure. Then in the Fall or Spring of next year we will have a formal celebration. We will celebrate in our hearts no matter what, our love does not die.
This Wednesday, May 27, I celebrate the 20th anniversary of my priesthood. I would be honored if you could tune in on Wednesday for 8:30am Mass. It would be awesome if you could celebrate with me virtually. It would mean the world to me. Thank you.
Finally, I ask one more favor of you and you cannot be surprised at what it is. Be a person of prayer! Please spend time with Jesus each day listening to his desire for your life to be full of his love!