1. Pastor Transition: Even though, I will continue as pastor of The Basilica through June, the transition process has begun. Fr. Dan Griffith has met with or will be meeting with the trustees, our parish staff and parish leadership. His intent in these meetings is to listen and learn, so he can hit the ground running July 1 and serve the parishioners of The Basilica of St. Mary.
I am enormously grateful and extremely excited that Fr. Griffith will be the next pastor of The Basilica. He will bring an abundance of gifts, as well as great experience and expertise to his role as pastor of The Basilica. As we continue to move forward, I ask you to please keep both of us in your prayers.
2. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank all those who continue to support to our parish community financially during the pandemic. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your contribution - no matter the size - is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community.
Your ongoing generosity is very important to the financial health of our parish. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support.
3. Lent: As you read this, we are well into the season of Lent. As a child I never really appreciated Lent. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for me and for all of us. With the pace of our world and its multiple distractions, it’s so easy for us to miss the fundamental mystery of our faith: Jesus Christ, died and rose again to offer us the promise and gift of eternal life.
Through its various penances and ascetical practices, Lent helps us choose the way of the Lord Jesus once again. It brings us to a full stop, calls us to prayer and to attend to the poor, and summons us to other practices, so the value of our lives and the purpose of our discipleship can be rediscovered.
During this special season, I invite and encourage you to look at your calendar and to plan on participating virtually or in-person in the services and activities that will be offered at The Basilica during Lent. Visit our web site at mary.org for a list of our Lenten activities and services.
4. Catholic Services Appeal: We began the 2022 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) the weekend of February 12th and 13th. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services and programs within our Archdiocese. Now obviously, many people are concerned that contributions to the Archdiocese will be used for purposes they didn’t intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This was done to ensure all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal. I support it financially and I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information in pews or learn more at csafspm.org.
5. Parish Life During the Pandemic: At the present time, many of our parish activities, services, and ministries are back in person; some are being conducted virtually; and some can be done hybrid. We continue to ask the question of when, how and where we can resume all of these activities on campus. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, we are making all decisions on a case-by-case basis. We also continue to look for new opportunities to celebrate the life of our parish community.
Clearly, we all miss the opportunities to gather and celebrate our faith as we used to. We miss gathering with others, and worshipping and praying together. We also miss the opportunities to give witness to our faith through our community activities. When we gather again as we used to—and I believe we will—it is my hope and sincere prayer that church will have a renewed meaning for all of us.
6. Covid and Me: As I write this column, (2/23) I have tested positive for Covid and am quarantining at home. The worst of the symptoms have passed, and I am waiting for a negative test so I can return to work at The Basilica. Fortunately, I have been vaccinated and boosted, so my symptoms were just fatigue, congestion and body aches.
Since I was being very careful, catching Covid turned out to be much easier than I would have thought. I was scheduled to have dinner with some friends, (who were also vaccinated and boosted) and when we got to the restaurant, we had to wait in the bar for a few minutes for the restaurant to get our table ready. Of course, the bar was packed, and that’s all it took.
I am grateful that I was vaccinated and boosted, and even more grateful that my symptoms were fairly mild. I am most grateful, though, for Frs. Berger, Tasto and Gillespie, who filled in during my absence. They were/are a great grace for me and for our parish.
7. EDI: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: As I have mentioned previously, for the past few years The Basilica has recognized a need to address and respond to the issue of racism in our lives, our parish, and our community. After meetings with Sarah Bellamy, an equity consultant, in the spring of 2019, and with the establishment of an EDI Leadership Team, a Position Statement was created to guide our efforts as we seek to respond to the sin of racism. We were challenged to do this particularly by the words of Pope Francis in reflecting on the death of George Floyd: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of human life.”
Responding to racism is a process not an event. It is a process in which we all must be involved. Our EDI Team continues to invite people to engage with the EDI Position Statement and by laying out the goals we have identified to work on as a parish community. In April and May our EDI team will be hosting some anti-bias training sessions for interested parishioners. To find out more about the important work of EDI, visit mary.org/edi.
8. The Archdiocesan Synod: Despite the pandemic, the work of preparing for the Synod continues. As I write this column, our parish Synod group is preparing to meet on a Saturday morning for 5.5 hours to discuss three specific topics in regard to future of the Church in our Archdiocese: 1.Sharing the Gospel in word and deed; 2.The universal call to holiness; 3.Young adult ministry. The outcome of these discussions will form the basis of our parish’s representatives’ input at the Archdiocesan Synod Assembly on June 3-5. I invite you to continue to pray for the success of the Synod process, and for the future of our parish and local Church.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary