Pastor's Desk Notes

May 26, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

About a year ago, I received a very unexpected invitation. A social media post alerted me to the engagement of Christina and Ian, a young couple I have known for a few years through my work with Catholic Heart Workcamp. My first thought as I read the good news was happiness for them, followed by, “I didn’t know they were dating.” A few days later, they called me to ask me to celebrate their wedding Mass in Illinois. I was (and am) deeply honored that they would ask me, especially as I have only actually spent time with them in the context of their work as staff members with CHWC, one week a year, for about four years. Not only that, but they reminded me that I was part of their story in a way I had not realized. Apparently, as it was becoming clear to both of them that there was some chemistry, Christina asked my advice – I have no recollection of this conversation – about dating Ian. I must have said something worthwhile, because this weekend I am with them to celebrate their wedding!

I want to share Christina and Ian with you for two reasons. First, because I truly admire this young couple. I believe that they have approached dating and marriage in such a healthy way. From the start, they wanted to discern carefully what God wanted for them individually and as a couple. They have put their faith in God at the very heart of their relationship. As we have prepared for the wedding, it is clear that they understand that their marriage is not only about them – they want the wedding Mass itself to be a moment for their guests and family members to encounter the love of Jesus and see the beauty of marriage as a sacrament, a channel of God’s abundant grace for humanity. Marriage is a beautiful vocation. If you are getting ready for marriage or thinking about taking that step, I hope that this story will be encouragement to you! Second, I want to tell you about this couple because they make me reflect with gratitude on the priesthood. Though my time with them in-person has been limited, Christina and Ian have welcomed me into their lives as a spiritual father. They are a reminder to me that the impact a priest can make is not always measured in years or regularity of ministry. A priest can bring Christ into someone’s life in a single encounter, or through a prolonged ministerial bond. The fact that I don’t remember that conversation with Christina reminds me of the incredible responsibility I have when offering counsel. I know that I am an imperfect priest, that my advice is not always sage, that I don’t always make seeing Jesus easy. Christina and Ian and their invitation to celebrate their wedding humbles me and makes me profoundly grateful to God for letting me see that even my weakness does not get in the way of His grace. And it makes me grateful for all the people I have met and ministered to who, though I am imperfect, have welcomed me as a priest and father, have forgiven my faults, and have let me know in different ways that they care. Finally, the ways that Ian and Christina have impacted my priesthood make me want to encourage young men who are considering the priesthood. God doesn’t need you to be absolutely perfect, but He will bring the good work you do to a holy completion. Please pray for vocations to the priesthood!

So that’s where I am this weekend. Though it is a joyful occasion, with my sabbatical beginning next week, I also feel like I need to apologize for missing this weekend in the parish. I’ll be back this Sunday night and will be here in the parish through the week before departing June 1. Please know of my prayers for you all while I am away, and please keep me in your prayers during the three months of my sabbatical!


Fr. Sam