Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally
in San Francisco, June 8.
The Bishop has told us that by the end of June he will name a new pastor, and I only have a few more weeks left in our beautiful parish. I will miss this parish and Modesto terribly, and leave with such beautiful memories. I remember first arriving, in September 1999. I was serving on the Priests’ Personnel Board as the Vocations Director for the Diocese. The pastor, Fr. Joseph O’Hare, was ill, and the Board was discussing who could run the parish until he recovered. All the heads turned to me and Msgr. Ryan said “What about you, Joe?” So I packed up that day and moved into what I thought would be a temporary assignment. But I could not help falling in love with the parish. I offered the Vigil Mass that Saturday, and after Mass spontaneously consecrated the parish to Our Lady, the Mother of God. I knelt before the altar that night and offered the parish to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The people expressed such beautiful confidence in my heartfelt instinct.
After eight months as temporary administrator, I applied for the pastorate. Although the Bishop had said I was free to apply, he decided later that I would not be appropriate for the position. I was a bit crushed, and poured out my disappointment to Mary Mullins, the parish secretary. “Father,” she said to me, “you have to fight for this parish. We want you, and you want the parish. Faint hearts do not win fair ladies.” Her words strengthened my faint heart, and I went back to the Bishop to argue my case. He deferred to Msgr. Ryan, the Vicar General, who sighed and said, “We need to give guys a chance. Let Joe take the parish.” Thank you, Bishop Blaire and Msgr. Ryan, for giving me a chance! I hope I have not disappointed you!