Coming, Going or Staying Put: GOD'S FLOCK IS IN YOUR MIDST!

I am stunned to think that I have not offered a post since September of 2011; that's incredible, and also pretty sad!  That gives evidence that "time flies when you're having fun," but it is also indicative of a very busy lifestyle that I lead -- and so many of you do as well.  Nevertheless, my life is shifting in some major ways very soon.  These changes will be somewhat bittersweet; there will be affirmations and challenges along the way, I am confident.  I suspect these changes will offer me greater opportunities to be more faithful to my blog, however; at least that it my hope!  Perhaps the best way to announce these changes is to offer here what was sent to my parishioners' homes and what is being sent out to the college community as well.  Here it goes:

I am aware that the summer months find many of us away from the campus, so I’d like to use this forum to notify you of the announcement I made at the 10:00 AM Mass this past Sunday at Old Saint Joseph Church: My ministry as Pastor of Saint Norbert College Parish will come to an end on the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, 1 July 2012, after serving as Pastor since July of 2004 and having held office on the college campus since 2001. Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem. and the Norbertine Community of Saint Norbert Abbey have granted me a sabbatical to study Spanish both locally and in Cuernavaca, Mexico with the hope of returning to the area to minister in poverty apostolates of the Norbertine Order. I must admit that I am a bit frightened by studying a foreign language relatively late in life, but I am also excited about the prospect of ministering to the Faithful in a culture other than my own. Humbly, I ask you to keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

I have felt blessed serving as your pastor over these past eight years; in fact, at the conclusion of my time with you, I will join Father Gery Meehan, O. Praem. as having been the longest serving pastor of the college parish. There have been challenges along the way, especially burying 15 college students during my first four years as pastor. Implementing the recent liturgical changes asked by the local bishop and the American Catholic Church has also been challenging, but I believe that we have weathered that storm with dignity, style and grace. Those challenges are so diminished when I consider the complete fulfillment I have felt over the years especially when Baptizing 186 children into Jesus Christ; presiding over 248 peoples’ Marriages, the majority having been college students; offering Holy Communion for the first time to 93 of our children; and burying 64 students, parishioners and friends of the college over the years.

Perhaps my greatest fulfillment, though, has been found in my college office both in the John Minihan Science Hall and more recently in Todd Wehr Hall, joining in one-on-one pastoral conversations with people of all ages, especially our college students, amidst the biggest joys and worst fears in their lives. I will never forget such encounters and such beautiful people, and I will continue to keep these folks in my daily thoughts, prayers and Mass Intentions. Assisting SNC Admissions and SNC Alumni and Parent Relations in welcoming folks to our college for the first time or after many years away has also been a blessing. Further, I am most grateful that our coaches have invited me to be a part of their athletic programs in offering our college athletes a holistic approach to winning and losing before, during and after athletic competitions.

Pending Bishop David Ricken's approval, I am excited for the parish and college as you prepare to welcome on 10 September 2012 your thirteenth pastor, my Norbertine Confrere and dear friend, Father John Tourangeau, O. Praem. Father John will bring much energy, excitement and pastoral zeal to his ministry: “Welcome him as you would welcome Christ,” I hope: I know he will show you the same consideration. Until that time, Father Salvatore Cuccia, O. Praem., a man who needs no introduction, will serve as Pastor Pro Tem (Temporary Administrator).

We have seen over and over again that pastors come and go, but the Real Presence of Jesus Christ remains steadfast! May we all continue to celebrate that sacred presence, regardless of where we find ourselves, as we strive to be “One in mind and heart on our way home to God.”

Yours in Ss. Norbert & Joseph,

Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.


Katie Knapp said...

You will be in my prayers! I will miss seeing you at events! God bless!

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