From that life changing morning when I was ordained a Priest in the order of Melchizedek on May 30, I knew the weekend of Pentecost 1998 would forever change me. Obviously, it ontologically changed me through the Holy Spirit’s imposition of hands, but it also changed me in how I would look at Pentecost. This year Pentecost comes just like it did then, the Vigil was the 30th and Pentecost Sunday was the 31st. This means my Priesthood ordination is actually the feast of St. Joan of Arc, the parish where I came from in Chagrin Falls when I first entered the seminary. In honor of my love for St. Joan, I decided to have my first Mass at St. Joan of Arc Church during the 5:00p.m. Pentecost Vigil (30th) and followed up with my Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Charles Borromeo Church (Parma) on Pentecost Sunday morning. From that point forward, even though I always recognize my ordination as being on St. Joan’s feast, I celebrate it every year whenever Pentecost falls. Whatever church I have been at, I always encourage people to dress up in red to show the workings of the Holy Spirit in your life. I have been amazed and delighted to see how much this has grown through the years. Besides the amazing art and environment decorations, there are so many who dress together in some article of red, spouses who run to the store to make sure the red is donned, and other Priest friends who celebrate their ordinations in the same Pentecostal tradition.
So, whether you are staying home for this Pentecost weekend or being one of the few who can actually fit within our limited seating (due to the state and Church protocols), make sure you wear something red. Our Mass times are temporarily changing. For this opening weekend in order to help us get adjusted, we will be only offering a recording for the Pentecost Vigil for Saturday—in other words, there is no 5pm Vigil Mass this Saturday. In order for us to properly clean the Church, we will also not be having the 7:30 a.m. Mass. This will allow for two simultaneous Masses at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., held within the Church and the school gym. You can choose whichever place you want as long as there are available seats open. During our Memorial Day Mass we found out that we ran out of available pew space (since we had to take in consideration the six feet distancing). Hopefully by adding the Mass in the gym (albeit NOT the ideal situation for Liturgy), we can help those who were unable to enter the Church find a seat somewhere. Like we had to do last weekend, if by chance there are no seats available in either place, please let one of our ushers know so you can park in an open spot and pray with the Mass from your car...and if possible, we will try to bring Holy Communion to you (again, NOT the best practice). Thank you for your patience during this time when we are just trying to figure out the best way to continue our Sacramental life. It has not been easy, but it is so worth it.
Many are asking if this weekend is still my final Mass, it is not. Even though I have finished my final office hours and meetings, I will still be here for a couple weekday Masses and for the following two weekend Masses. My final Mass will be on Corpus Christi, June 14th. Please keep my Mom and my immediate family in your prayers. You know how hard this time of moving on is for me, but it is equally difficult for them. Saint Francis de Sales Parish is their home and you have become their family too. There are many changes coming for all of us, but we know that the Holy Spirit will carry us and breathe new life within us.
One thing that has made it so much better is the news of who will be coming when I leave. Much like the Gospel of John we have been hearing from so much lately, even though I must go, you will not be left orphan or abandoned because the Advocate/Holy Spirit will come and bring you Fr. Jeremy Merzweiler. Some of you may know him from when he grew up in Canal Fulton or went to the University of Akron and studied engineering, or from his time when I hired him for summer help here, or through his parents or one of his two sisters (one is an active parishioner here with her family). Others may recall that the Beacon Journal wrote a front page article about his spiritual journey to the seminary on August 23, 2009 (two weeks after I became your Administrator). Fr. Merzweiler even came here for his Mass of Thanksgiving on Pentecost Sunday in 2015. So, you might as well keep wearing your red because he is filled with the Holy Spirit and will become your new Administrator on July 1, 2020. You have no idea how this makes me so very happy, since Father Merzweiler was one of my spiritual sons at the time when he entered the seminary. I was blessed to walk with him during his time of discernment. Last fall, when he wasn’t sure if he should apply to come here, I prayed and pleaded with him to consider the possibility of becoming the next pastor here (and my Mother and I prayed so many Rosaries for him to just say yes). In other words, he is the one I prayed would be The Father’s choice for you! The Holy Spirit is certainly making it so much easier for me to go become the Spiritual Director of Saint Mary Seminary now isn’t He? Alleluia! Thank you Holy Spirit for always giving us what we truly need!
Pentecost 2013, look at all that red! My Mom even got my Dad into a red tie!