For those of you who read the bulletin online, this letter is not contained there. It was put in as an insert in this week's bulletin. I present here for the online readers.
Dear Friends in Christ,
This past week, I received a phone call from the Clergy Personnel Director for the Archdiocese. He informed me that my assignment as Pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea and as Administrator of St. Margaret’s will end on June 6th and the new pastor of all three parishes of Beverly will begin on that day. Your new pastor will be Fr. Mark Mahoney who is currently the Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Topsfield. Cardinal Sean told me that he has tremendous confidence in Fr. Mahoney and expects that he will do a superb job here.
Cardinal Sean is my father in Christ and he is our shepherd. I trust that he has made this decision with great pastoral solicitude for all of you. I am sure that some of you will be disappointed that I will not be staying with you and I too feel the weight of a great sorrow. That sorrow arises from a grateful heart. You know that I love you and that these thirteen years with you have been the great privilege of my life. While I will no longer be your pastor, I will always be your brother in Christ. For this, I am truly grateful.
I know if I were a priest coming into a parish under these circumstances, I might feel a bit overwhelmed. There are so many things that Fr. Mahoney will be expected to do and many of them will likely cause some inconvenience. When that happens, I ask you to remember that had I stayed, I would likely have been making some of those exact same decisions. So, please always give him the benefit of the doubt. More than that, please support and encourage him as you have done for me. You have a beautiful way of supporting and encouraging priests. With this new pastoral plan, pastors will need more support and encouragement than ever. To that end, perhaps you might think of dropping Fr. Mahoney a note in the next couple of weeks and welcome him to Beverly and tell him that you are praying for him. Please do so with no expectation that he will be able to write you back! It’s Lent and his whole life is being turned upside down right now. But, I bet he’d appreciate knowing that there are a lot of people happily expecting him. And, don’t write to him a list of things he should do when he gets here! Just a nice card to welcome him.
So, you might have some specific questions about particulars. Rather than me having to answer the same questions a thousand times, let me try to answer a few of the most common here:
1. Why is Fr. Barnes being transferred? Cardinal Sean and I met together and he said that those advising him thought that 13 years was long enough for me to be at one parish and he decided to take their advice. I want you to know that the Cardinal has treated me well and kindly and that I trust his decision in this matter. You should trust this decision as well.
2. Where is Fr. Barnes going? I have absolutely no idea and have no idea when I will know anything.
3. What about Fr. Chateau? I don’t know what will happen with Fr. Chateau.
So, these days are stressful for staff members and for Fr. Chateau. I obviously don’t like to see them stressed. We have a great staff and, as I’ve told you many times before, living and working with Fr. Chateau has been a great joy. He has been a good friend and brother. The life in our rectory among priests, seminarians, and staff has always been quite joyful and I will miss that.
Yes, these days are a bit of a sharing in the Cross for me. Not only is the act of leaving you a sharing in the Cross, but so too is the fact that I have no clarity about what is the path before me. All of you have crosses too and some of them are far greater than mine! So, let’s carry them with the interior joy that only Christians know, the joy of faith in the Risen Lord.
Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. David Barnes