A Time to Say Goodbye

03-05-2023Weekly ReflectionFr Charlie Goraieb

Dear Friends,

It has been two years since Bishop Olmsted asked me to serve at Our Lady of Mt Carmel as interim pastor. Our original agreement was for me to serve for one year after Fr John’s departure until a permanent pastor could be appointed. But it seems the Lord had other plans.

As many of you by now have heard me recount, shortly after my arrival the Lord, in many ways, made it clear that He wanted an Adoration Chapel for the parish. Following that prompting, which was confirmed at each step, and in consultation with Bishop Olmsted, I agreed to continue to serve for as long as it would take to complete the chapel.

In December of each year, we priests have to declare to the Bishop our preference regarding our assignment for the coming year. Based on my growing love for the parish and my commitment to see the chapel project through, I requested to continue my assignment at OLMC for a third year, beginning July 1 of this year to June 2024. That seemed a likely outcome until I received a phone call from Msgr. Bui, the Vicar for Clergy, calling to say Bishop Dolan wanted to meet with me.

In that meeting, the Bishop informed me that he has adopted a policy requiring all pastors and parochial administrators to step down when they reach age 75. Because I had crossed that threshold last July, he informed me this was to be my last year at Mt Carmel. So, in accord with my Bishop’s wishes, in June I will be ending my tenure as your parochial administrator. (Both the identity of your new pastor and where I will serve as a parochial vicar, will be announced later this month.)

Now what about the chapel? Because of your enthusiastic response and tremendous generosity, we have the funds to begin construction. We need to receive any outstanding pledges to complete the outside shading (pergola), but the chapel itself is funded. That means my successor has only to continue working with the chapel committee to bring it to completion. 

My interpretation of these events is that God had a specific role for me to play. My job was to get the chapel designed, approved and funded. So I will pass on the baton to my successor who will oversee its completion. This reminds me of the Scripture passage which says, “one man sows and another man reaps” (John 4:37).

I was hoping to still be here for the ground-breaking of the chapel. With typical delays for city permits and other construction issues, it is not clear if that will happen before I leave. But there is a plan B. We will be hosting a Parish Picnic on April 15th, the Eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy. Bishop Olmsted has kindly agreed to come and lead us in a “Ground Blessing” ceremony for our Divine Mercy Chapel. Because he was instrumental in discerning and encouraging the proposed idea, it is fitting and a blessing that he would confer his blessing upon it.

Please pray for me, for your new pastor, for the Sisters who will be leaving and for the whole parish in this time of change.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel, pray for us.

May God bless you and your family, Fr Charlie