During my years as a pastor, I wrote a letter almost every week to my parishioners. As I begin at Boston University, I want to write also to my new community. I recall that oftentimes a syllabus will distinguish between "Required Reading" and "Supplemental Reading." I suspect that maybe some "Required Reading" gets done. I will go out on a limb and guess that the "Supplemental Reading" doesn't get too many takers. I presume my weekly letter to students will fall somewhere right below "Supplemental Reading." This is okay, however. It is important for me to write the words. Whether anyone actually reads them will just be a bonus. The following is a short letter that I included in this week's bulletin.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Occasionally, somebody will ask me what my favorite part of being a priest is. It is always difficult to answer that question because there are so many awesome things in the life of the priest. But, I am particularly grateful that as a priest, I am entrusted with the care of Jesus’ sheep. It is a privilege to shepherd the flock that Jesus loves so very much. For thirteen years, I was the shepherd of the same parish and I truly loved it.
Since June, I've been waiting for my new flock to arrive! Welcome! In being your shepherd, I feel that Jesus has entrusted me with something very important. He looks upon you and your youth with great affection and with great concern. You are at a moment in life that is so crucial. If you eat in good pastures and drink from pure streams at this moment in your life, the future holds out so much hope for you! But, there is no doubt that the wolf stands off in the distance, lurking. Because Jesus looks upon you with such an intense love, the wolf hates you all the more. You are at a particularly vulnerable moment in your life and the wolf wants to exploit this vulnerability. So, I feel a great sense of responsibility to be a good shepherd to you.
I want to do my part to encourage you to live this moment in your life with zeal and with fortitude. The world needs young people like you to bear witness to the power of Christ. The world needs to see young men and women who are fully committed to Christ and to his Gospel. The world needs to meet young people who have encountered and been transformed by the mercy of Christ. Christ is looking upon you and depending upon you to bring the Gospel to others. So often, people say that you are the future of the Church, but this is not entirely accurate. Today is the day for you! Today, the world needs you! Today, Christ is calling you! Today, people are hungering and thirsting for truth, for beauty, and for goodness. Those people need to meet Christ.
We are an important part of Christ’s flock. Let’s do everything possible—through the sacraments, through prayer, through the Word, through our charity towards one another—to keep this flock strong and to light the world aflame with Christ’s love.
Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. David Barnes