A New Phase Begins: A Privilege to Love You More as your Shepherd

07-01-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Robert Aliunzi

Dear Friends,

Today, July 1, 2023, I offcially begin my ministry among you as your Pastor. I do so with profound gratitude to God for giving me the opportunity to serve you in this phase of my priestly life. I am honored. I expressed the same sentiment in the first article I wrote a few weeks ago and I repeat it yet again because gratitude remains my primary focus and love will be my instrument to express it. I am deeply grateful to all the pastors who preceded me most especially Fr. Charlie our immediate former pastor, for preparing me in various ways, knowingly or unknowing for this moment. I am also grateful to the Servants of the Plan of God for their years of great service to our parish and school. May they all be blessed as they begin another phase in their pastoral and evangelization mission wherever the Lord has now assigned them. I thank the staff of both the parish and of our wonderful school for serving with me diligently in this community. Finally, I thank you my dear parishioners, for showing me tremendous love this past year as I served as your associate pastor. Many of you have expressed lots of excitement and support when I was named as your pastor three months ago. That meant a lot to me and will continue to mean a lot to me for years to come.

As I assume this responsibility as your shepherd, my preeminent job as I see it, is to help lead you all to heaven. Nothing I do as your pastor will matter however brilliant it might seem if it does not inspire you towards our eternal destiny – heaven. This is a lofty goal and I know I cannot achieve it alone; I need your help so that we can make this important journey together. To realize this, my focus during my time with you will be on deepening our love for and devotion to the Eucharist and to Mother Mary. I am so excited about this prospect because I firmly believe that this mother and son duo, are a formidable force that can lead us to heaven if we include them on this journey. There will, therefore, be more opportunities for Eucharistic adoration (and soon perpetual adoration) and for devotion to Mother Mary. We are so blessed to have Mother Mary as the Patron of our parish under the title of Lady of Mt. Carmel because we know that once she tells her son “They have no wine”, her son will not resist responding on our behalf.

Now allow me to briefly share something about me for those of you who have not yet known me. I was born and raised in Uganda, East Africa. I come from a family of ten, six boys and four girls. I lost both my parents by the age of six and was largely raised by my elder brother and different relatives through a very di!cult childhood. I struggled to get an education until God eventually blessed me with my cherished priesthood through the help of different people who helped me financially. I was ordained a priest almost thirty-two years ago. I say almost because my thirty second ordination anniversary will be on the 20th of this month of July, 2023.

In 2013, I became an American citizen and last year, I was incardinated into the Diocese of Phoenix thereby transitioning from religious life as a missionary priest of the Apostles of Jesus into the diocesan priest of the diocese. You are therefore, my first parishioners to be serving as a diocesan priest. Please, continue to keep me in your prayers so that I may continue to love you dearly and serve you with greater dedication. Know that I am here to serve you so that together, we get to heaven. Also, please keep in your prayers Fr. Gabriel Terrill, my associate and brother who will be serving you with me. From my brief interaction with him, he is a wonderful and holy priest. I look forward to serving you with him. When you see him, tell him welcome and that you love him.

Finally, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, know that I LOVE YOU!