26/27 May 2018
7th Sunday of Ordinary Time
I’d like to update you about a new development here at St. Francis Xavier, my imminent departure, and the arrival of a new parish priest.
A combination of retirements of pastors around the Archdiocese has once again set dominos falling among our priests. At the end of June, I will move to become the parish priest of St. Mary’s in Chinatown. St. Mary’s is home to several Catholic communities including the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite… that is to say, the Latin Mass as it was celebrated before 1965. Because of my skills in language and liturgy/ceremony, Cardinal Wuerl has asked me specifically to accept this assignment. Obedient to my vows I have happily accepted.
The new priest at St. Francis Xavier will by my dear friend Fr. Mark Cusick, currently assigned at St. John the Evangelist, Silver Spring. I’m confident that Fr. Mark will bring his intellect, excitement and most of all his pastoral love to bear on ministry here at St. Francis Xavier. I’m also confident that this will be a seamless transition. I ask your prayers for me and for Fr. Mark, whom I hope to invite for a visit as soon as possible. As I mentioned Fr. Mark and I are friends, having attended seminary at the same time. I think you’ll find that we are generally of a mind and so this change will be marked by a surprising degree of continuity.
There’s a mix of emotions whenever a priest moves. I’m sure the dominant feeling will be that of our boat rocking. The barque of the Church often rocks, but she never gets overturned… and eventually, things do settle down. Right now we feel this more frequently than in the past because there are so few priests to go around. This year we will ordain an unusually small class for our Archdiocese, only three new priests making it that much more of a challenge to keep all of our parishes open and staffed. The growing frequency of priest-moves is all for that purpose: to keep ALL of our communities open. Every other diocese around the country has shuddered churches, sometimes many dozens of them, but in the more than three hundred years since the first mass was said in St. Mary’s County, our area has never seen a parish close… so even amidst the topsy-turvy feelings about priests moving, we can hold on to that as a source of pride and stability.
There’ll be more to say over the coming weeks, but as with most of Church life, it’s said in person. Please know that as always my door is open if you have questions or concerns and that my heart is open to all of you whom I have so enjoyed serving these last eighteen months.
Fr. De Rosa