Thank You, Fr. Bline

This Solemnity that honors the Body and Blood of Jesus will also be the final weekend Fr. Bline celebrates Mass as a pastor of St. Francis de Sales. We thank God for Fr. Bline and for the way he has shepherded our parish. Through the many ups and downs of parish life, through the successes and tragedies this parish family faced during his time as pastor, Fr. Bline showed us the love of Jesus Christ. Through his homilies, his times of prayer, and building a culture of prayer and family at the parish, he taught us many things. It is perhaps fitting, then, that this weekend marks his final weekend Masses as pastor, because we celebrate who we are especially on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Fr. Bline continually reminded us to “remember who you are” through his words and deeds as pastor. In listening to his words and through his mentoring me as a new priest, Fr. Bline again and again turned my attention to who God called me to be as a Christian. In my reflection on this special lesson, this prophetic call from his shepherd’s heart, I can see a bit more clearly what he meant by this call to remember who we are. When we receive Holy Communion, we say “amen” to the host being the Body of Christ and the chalice filled with the Precious Blood of Jesus. This “amen” takes us into a profound truth: In receiving Christ in Communion, we receive the one who fashions us in His image. Our Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharistic Communion reveal who we are in Christ, in this is a foundation and summons. Through faith and the Sacraments we become the Body of Christ as Church, and our lives are about a continual deepening of this identity in our lives. When Fr. Bline called us in times of blessing and trial to remember who we are, he appealed to this noble dignity we inherit through Jesus Christ. He called out to us to remember that dignity and live it well. As Fr. Bline begins a new assignment as a spiritual director at the seminary, I know we hope he continues that prophetic mission.

Thank you, Father, for never giving up on us and never letting us forget who we are in Christ. Thank you for revealing that truth of who Jesus is  by your attentiveness to your flock of St. Francis. Thank you for your countless hours of intercession for your people. Thank you for your leadership that gave room to God’s care and providence. Thank you for your compassion towards the little ones of the parish. Thank you for creating an atmosphere of reverence and prayer, especially prayer that continually directs us to the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Your advice in your sermons, and I’m sure in personal meetings and in other sacramental moments, brought us wisdom and support. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for your tireless ministry. We have been enriched by your pastoring and you have prepared St. Francis well for the years ahead.

This Feast Day may be an Advent Moment of anticipation, when St. Francis moves from one season to another with a new pastor starting soon. But, this Advent Moment of transition was filled with the hope and promise of any prayerful Advent. The twilight purple of Advent that you love so much, becomes something of a hope for a new dawn. Like so many shepherds and prophets, like King David himself from the Old Testament, you point us to that promise. God is good! We know thatyou have blessed Fr. Merzweiler as a brother priest who will shepherd St. Francis. And, we know the power of your blessing and the passing of the mantle of pastoral ministry. We will hold you up in our prayers; prayers of thanksgiving and memories that cause joy and build up our faith. God is so good. Thank you for revealing that goodness to us and always reminding us to remember who we are.

God bless you, Fr. Bline