This will be my first Sunday at Star of the Sea parish, and I am so happy to be with you at our little corner of God’s Kingdom on Geary Boulevard. In particular I wish to thank Fr. Mazza for his fine work as our pastor over the last two years, and to Fr. Meriwether and all our beloved staff for welcoming Fr. Driscoll and me. When last I lived in this fair City, Star was my parish and Msgr. Cornelius Burns was my priest (pastor at Star from 1976-1995). In fact, I was baptized at another Star of the Sea Parish, in the Bronx, on New Year’s Eve 1961. It’s Star for me from sea to sea!
Thus Our Lady under the title Stella Maris has been my protectress at every stage of my life: at my birth, in my young adulthood, and now in my later years. If God grants us to become Oratorian Fathers, we will spend the rest of our lives at this parish. Oratorians are “secular” priests like diocesans, but unlike diocesan priests they stay in one place for life. Stability of location and apostolate, through which your priests can develop deeper and longer-lasting charity, is one of the hallmarks of the Oratorian spirit. Actually, diocesan priests in days gone by would receive permanent parish assignments. Msgr. Walter Fleming stayed at Star for almost 20 years, and Msgr. Patrick Ryan served as pastor for 36 years! My old pastor, Msgr. Burns, stayed with Star for almost 25 years as shepherd, father, and friend; I hope to do the same (in 25 years I will be 77 years old).
Some have asked me what the “Oratorian Programme” will be for our parish, or what pastoral plan I envision. I think this Sunday’s Scriptures say it best. Our Lord Jesus feeds 5000 men, and perhaps their wives and their many children, with a few loaves. He “takes, blesses, breaks, and gives” this bread. My “pastoral plan” is simply to receive the bread, to bless it, to break it, and to give it to you in the Holy Mass. I hope you will then bring the graces received in the Holy Mass to the whole world in lives burning with love. The “Oratorian programme” is simple: Mass and confessions. If each of us is receiving Jesus in Mass every Sunday, prepared by frequent confession, God will grant us joy and charity without limits. St. Paul speaks this confidence in today’s Second Reading: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present, nor future …nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God…” Let us not be afraid, but let us be faithful to the Holy Eucharist, and so be made capable of loving one another in Christ Jesus our Lord.