June 19, 2011
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Twenty years ago on May 26, 1991 The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity was the Sunday on which I celebrated my first Mass as a priest. It was a very hot day, temperature in the 90’s for Memorial Day Weekend. It was a grace-filled wonderful day for me and all my family. Now on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 2011 I celebrate my final weekend Masses with you as your pastor.
Please accept my overwhelming feeling of gratitude for you and these past twelve years we have spent together.
I could not list for you all the memorable experiences I have shared with you that have been such an important part of my life. God has been so good to us all. When I recall specific events, both ones of great joy and happiness and ones of sorrow and tragedy, I realize it is necessary to see them all as one. One great experience of grace during which the Lord has been present to us all in so many different ways.
I am grateful for your generosity, support, love, and friendship. I am grateful for your encouragement, prayers, assistance, and faith. I am grateful too for your suggestions and corrections from which I have learned. I am grateful for your compassion and forgiveness. I have learned from all that we were able to accomplish together and hopefully I have learned from my mistakes, blunders, missteps, and sins.
Thank you for all the enjoyment we have shared over the years. Thank you for the Masses, the Days of Confession, the projects, the social events, the many meetings and working together for all our ministries and activities. Thank you most recently for all the love and support you have shown to me in these farewell events, cards, and memories.
I have used this column to share with you reflections about parish events and news, but mostly I have used this space to reflect on our faith and the Sunday Scripture readings. I will use this concluding column to reflect on the Sunday readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
The first reading from Exodus speaks of the Lord as “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in
kindness and fidelity.” Moses, after bowing down to the ground in worship, asks the Lord to “come along in our company...and receive us as your own.” Moses desires for his people to be close to the Lord, to be a part of their
journey. Hopefully, during these recent years we have come to know the Lord as a merciful God who is always with us on our journey, day after day.
The middle reading from St. Paul is the same as the middle reading from my first Mass twenty years ago. It concludes with the greeting that I use at most every Mass I celebrate: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” This greeting at the beginning of Mass states our belief in the Trinity at the very outset of our worship. At the beginning of this reading, St. Paul encourages a spirit of forgiveness, encouragement, and unity. Unity is a greatly needed gift nowadays. We live in a time during which there is too much division. This is true in our Church as well as in our nation. Unity is not to be confused with uniformity. We have diversity in our parish, a diversity that brings with it a richness. Diversity is no obstacle to unity. Diversity may require that we always be attentive to our need for unity. Over the years, I believe our parish has drawn together in many ways and I hope that the need for unity continues to be a priority for Holy Name of Mary as well as for all parishes and all the Church. Our shared faith is the foundation of our unity.
The gospel passage today includes John 3:16, that citation we often see on a placard held up at a sporting event. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Eternal life means for us heaven. With the hundreds of families with whom I have prayed at funerals for a loved one, heaven has always been a focus of our faith and our faith imagination. I hope these important times of grief, faith, and prayer have helped to strengthen your belief in heaven. We begin our life of faith at baptism, celebrating that God shares his life with us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We conclude our life here in the sure and certain hope that the “merciful and gracious God” gives to us the gift of eternal life in heaven. We spend our lives in faith, hope, and love so that we might be given the reward of eternal life in heaven.
Please afford Msgr. Sosing the same welcome and support you offered to me in 2000. Msgr. Sosing is a well-experienced priest and pastor. As I have needed your kindness and support, so will he. Please be generous to him as you have been to me in all sorts of ways.
In 1999 Bishop McHugh sent me to Holy Name of Mary to serve you. After awhile I came to know you. I have now grown to love you. My gratitude and prayers for all of you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Monsignor Thomas J. Harold