I am thrilled that Bishop Gregory Hartmayer has appointed me to be your new pastor. I want to thank him for that from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank Father Joseph Smith who has heroically served this parish in good health and bad for the past 14 years. He has certainly left a legacy of faith, hope and love not to mention a revived parish with new parish facilities to include Holy Family Hall, this magnificent new church, as well as, quite a lovely new rectory and what a rectory it is! Thank you Father Joe!!!!! He and I are good friends. I got to know him when he was a lay person when I was the Associate Pastor of the Cathedral from 1985 to ’91. He sang in the Cathedral’s men’s choir. I was also vocation director and assisted him into the seminary and priesthood.
When I first read the Gospel to prepare for this letter which I am writing in Macon on June 11th, I wondered if it was an omen for me as I prepared to arrive in Richmond Hill: “On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for Jesus’ reception there, but they would not welcome him.”
I thought to myself, “Okay Lord, what are you trying to tell me?” He whispered back, “don’t worry, you aren’t entering a Samaritan town and you aren’t Jesus! They are Catholic and they will welcome you!” What a relief!
I know it is difficult to say goodbye to a pastor you have come to know so well and love. You don’t know who I am or what I will do. While I am a different person, I am still a Catholic and a priest. I will try to cultivate what has been planted and sow some of my own seeds as well.
While I am certainly an orthodox Catholic priest, I am pastorally sensitive to the difficulties that all Catholics face be they clergy or laity. So I preach perfection but offer medicine for wounds especially in the Sacrament of Confession. There are many people injured out there by their own sins and the sins of others. We aren’t perfect yet and I know that very well. I’d say I am on the same page as Pope Francis in this regard.
I look forward to getting to know you. I treasure your welcome. I have a very dry sense of humor so be prepared. God bless you.
Father Allan Joseph McDonald