Being a priest is one of the greatest joys I have ever known. Since I was in second grade I would look up to the priest at Mass and think “I’m supposed to be up there.” Through a long period of discernment and many life lessons, I grew more certain that this is what the Lord is calling me to, unworthy as I am. Remember, the Lord doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. When I think of the priesthood all I can think of is the line from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: “It’s a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done!”
One of the most difficult parts of the priesthood though, is saying good bye to the parishes and people whom you have grown to love, and that have shown you great love. Words are so inadequate to express the sentiments of esteem which I hold for you.
I recall my very first Mass here (about 30 lbs ago) and people were delightfully surprised that I spoke English. We’ve come a long way in that short time! I have learned so much about what it means to be a Pastor from you.
Now, as I leave St. Paul’s, St. James, and St. Michael’s, as heavy as my heart may be, I am confident of a few things:
These are amazing parishes! Any priest would be blessed to be assigned here. Your devotion and love of the Lord and your churches is exemplary. Many of you work very hard through challenging times to keep these parishes as beacons of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a spiritually thirsty world.
We shall always be joined by our bond of Holy Communion with the Lord Jesus.
I also trust that the Lord will continue to bring about great fruit in these parishes. If your trust is in the Lord, then the vineyard of the church in New Lisbon, Camp Douglas, and Indian Creek will bear great fruit!
As our readings this weekend teach us, the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel (Is 1:5-7, Psalm 80). At vintage time, the Lord, the master of the vineyard, will return to receive the harvest.
Do good, be faithful, be pleasing in his sight (Matthew 21: 33-43) and bear fruit by living lives that are touched by His love. Remain in Christ, and be assured that he remains in you!
You will always be in my heart and in my prayers, I remain, sincerely yours,
Father Robert Letona