Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother!
It had been my intention to write to you this week with some suggestions about our monthly plan of life to help us all grow in the life of holiness. However, I would like to interrupt our little mediations to extend a cordial invitation to all of you, the dear parishioners of this wonderful parish, to my installation as the Sixth Pastor of St. Paul. This will take place at the 4.00 pm Mass (note time change) on Saturday September 7th , the Vigil of the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. It will be followed by our annual parish picnic. I am very humbled to accept this great responsibility, unworthy though I be. By now I am sure that it is evident to you that in so many areas I am a zero (()). But we must always remember that to the left of all my zeroes stands that One, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And so I pray he will take me in spite of my sins and inadequacies, and with
His grace, help me to serve you as you deserve. I pray that I will be a shepherd with the Heart of Christ who will love all without exception, especially the sick and the most vulnerable.As I begin my pastorate in a formal way I am conscious of my predecessors on whose shoulders I stand. I express sincere gratitude to Monsignor Clerkin for all that he has done for the last eleven years. He has served St. Paul in a selfless way and may God reward and bless him. Although I never knew Monsignor Costa in this world, I feel very close to him and feel a deep bond of friendship with him. So many of you speak of him with obvious love and affection that I realize he was indeed a priest after Our Lord’s own Heart. One of my great heroes in the faith was a prominent Churchman of the last century. Rafael, Cardinal Merry del Val. Cardinal Merry del Val was the Secretary of State to St. Pius X who always thought of him as a saint. Although he held the highest office in the Church after the Pope, Cardinal Merry del Val would return to his home each evening from the Vatican. He lived in the Trastevere section of Rome which at that time was the poorest district in the City. There he would remove his Cardinal’s robes and don the simple black cassock of a parish priest. There he served as a chaplain at an orphanage. While during the day he mixed with Kings and Emperors and other Heads of State, there he was simply a priest. It was he who first uttered those words which
have so inspired me: There can be no greater joy for a priest that to work with God for the salvation of souls.The actual installation ceremony itself is rather simple. The new Pastor is presented to the Dean, Very Reverend Robert Romeo, and is greeted by the members of the Parish Council, Finance Council, Parish Staff, and Trustees. Then the new pastor makes the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity, while holding his hand on the Book of the Holy Gospels. Then the Holy Mass continues in the usual way. When I arrived at St. Paul’s I learned of the Annual Picnic. I immediately thought that this would be a wonderful occasion for the Installation of the Pastor. For in this way, after Holy Mass we will be able to greet one another and I was most anxious that no one would be excluded, especially the children.At this most solemn time then I come to you asking for your prayers that I may ever be a good priest and pastor.
I am deeply grateful to all those who are working for this happy day. Let us all ask St. Joseph for the grace of good weather on that day. May God bless you all.
(May the Virgin Mary bless us with her Divine Child).
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda