Sunday, June 24th, is my final Sunday at Notre Dame. As you know, I will be retiring and Fr. Joseph Scolaro will become your new pastor on June 27th. I know that you will welcome him and support him as he takes over at Notre Dame.
As I look back it is hard to believe that I have been at Notre Dame for 22 years. When I came here in 1996 I expected to be here for only a few years. Things don’t always work out as we plan. I can honestly say, Thank God.
During my years here so many things have happened, so many events that have impacted our parish. Tragic events like the Flt. 800 disaster, the terror attacks on 9/11 brought us together in sorrow and grief. The terrible scandals that rocked the Church shook our trust and caused some to leave us. The 50th anniversary of our church was a time of celebration and good memories. The renovation of the church reflected the struggles of the church in changing times. Those events, as well as the countless moments of joy, celebration, and sorrow experienced by the members of our parish are significant moments in a life, the life of Notre Dame. I humbly thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to be here for those moments.
I want to express my gratitude to Bishop Murphy who was kind enough to grant my request for two assignment extensions and then entrusted me with my assignment as pastor. He was a great support to me. I also want to thank Bishop Barres who has been very supportive. He was extraordinarily kind to me when I spoke to him about my health issues and was more than generous in granting me early retirement. I will always be grateful to these two fine men.
I have had the honor and privilege of working with a number of fine priests and deacons during my years at Notre Dame. I want to thank Msgr. Peter Pflomm, and Msgr. John Martin from whom I learned much. I thank Fr. Steve Donnelly and Fr. Jim Carmody with whom I served as associate pastor, and Fr. Simonpeter, Fr. Joe Madsen, Msgr. Rom Sossing, Fr. Steve Hannafin, and Fr. Melly who served as associate pastors during my tenure as pastor. Their support and friendship was invaluable. I also remember Fr. Jack Murray and Msgr. Tom Colgan, who have gone to their heavenly reward, for their wisdom and generosity. I also want to express my gratitude to Fr. John Denniston. Hopefully he will be back at full strength this summer. He has been a friend since seminary days and I have relied on him repeatedly for his opinions, his advice, and his humor. I am grateful to Deacons Frank Kurre, Tom Lemme, Jack McGowan, and Peter DiGiusseppi for their generous ministries of service that have enriched our parish life.
I thank the religious sisters who have been a part of our ministry team: Sister Judy Golden and Sister Margaret Hartigan who served as Pastoral Associates, Sister Mary Jane Coleman our Director of Religious Education, Sister Alice who began our Social Ministry program, and Sister Josephine Daspro who has coordinated our Spiritual Formation programs. Our Social Ministry coordinators, Gloria Boyd, Gena McSorley, and John Gonzalez and our Youth Ministry coordinators Maria Cantasano and Theresa Roach, all of whom have made and continue to make great contributions to our mission as a parish. I thank Josephine Sanges, our Music Director and Liz Carolan, who directs our Family Mass Choir, for helping us pray at Mass. I also thank our school principals, Sister Lorraine McDonald, Margaret Moss, and Caryn Durkin for the outstanding job that they have done. I am truly grateful to all who have worked in parish administration, school administration and parish maintenance for making the parish run smoothly.
Finally, but most important of all, I want to thank all of you, members of Notre Dame for all your support, encouragement, and your expressions of deep faith in both good and difficult times. More times than you can imagine you lifted me up. For this I will be forever grateful. All of you will be in my prayers. Please pray for me. God Bless You.