Many of you already knew it, but it is now official, I received my new assignment. I am appointed chaplain of the Latin Mass community in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is quite exiting to join a new apostolate for me: meeting new people, discovering a new Diocese, a new State, a new city! Other place, other people, but same mission: let Our Lord Jesus Christ know! “Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Co 9 ; 16)
Since I am a priest, and even before, it is what I try to do, with my own defects and in spite of my imperfection. But there is one thing that gives me a lot of comfort: God has chosen the weak things of the world so that He may confound the strong. (cf 1 Co 1 ; 27) It is good to hear that, otherwise we would be grabbed by fears, anxiety and doubt, facing the task we have to accomplish. Can anyone one on earth understand what a priest is and what his mission is? According to Saint John Mary Vianney, that we are celebrating today, our understanding of priesthood is far below the reality. The Saint said: “Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love."
Well, I guess I did not yet understand since I am well alive while writing these lines. In a certain way, this is exciting. There are so many things that we still have to learn and to understand. It is a fascinating spiritual and intellectual quest, don’t you think? Here is our motivation in order to go forward on our road toward God. We know that, provided that we remain faithful to God, we will see Him face to face and I try to think about this extraordinary meeting every day of my life. Seeing God face to face! We cannot imagine. But it will happen! So, it is not in vain that we carry the Cross that Jesus puts on our shoulders. It is our safe-conduct to Heaven.
Moving from Georgia to Arkansas, I will take my Cross with me. Among all the things that I have to pack for my trip, it is certainly the only one that I cannot forget. May Our Lady help me to carry it! A new horizon is now open in front of me with many projects. Let them serve well Our Lord if He esteems them useful for His Kingdom.
Dear parishioners of Saint Francis de Sales, it is not without emotion that I am leaving you. I have been with you for four years and it was a good time for me. When I arrived, in September 2003, I was a little bit lost. My English was very poor and I had to go through many administrative requirements. But I felt at home because of your welcome. Now my English is a little bit better (if you want to play a game, you can find how many mistakes are in this post and I will offer a decade of the Rosary for the winner) and I am sure that I will find nice people too in Little Rock. Southern hospitality is not a vain word. I would like to thank you for these four years spent together. A parish is first of all a community of faithful; in other words, it is a family. Please, keep that in your mind: you are members of a great family. Act toward your fellow parishionner as if he or she were your brother or you sister.
For me…I will keep Georgia on my mind and some nights when nostalgia will come on me, I will remember this ‘old, sweet song’ which will help me to keep ‘ya’ll’ in my mind and to offer a prayer for you.
I entrust each one of you to Our Lady of joy. May Saint Francis de Sales help you to remain in the Love of God.
Maria, causa nostrae laetitiae, ora pro nobis.