Phil’s Notes & Tidbits
I suppose the number of tears shed is directly proportional to the depth of the relationship present. 11 years ago God called me to Stevens Point. I could never have envisioned the joys, challenges, growth and gifts that would transpire in that time.
At various points over the years, I have been asked if I would be leaving my position, and my response has always been the same, “wherever God calls.” Now it has become apparent that God is calling my family and I to serve Christ in a new way. I have accepted a position as Pastoral Associate at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Gaylord, MI. My last day present at St. Peter’s will be June 14th.
It would not be overstating matters to say this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Let me clarify, one of the hardest discernments; the decision is a given when one determines what direction God is pointing. (There’s not a real good track record of success in running away from God!) Trust me, I looked for reasons to say “no” to this position and came to see that to say “no” to this was to walk away from where God is leading. I’ve spent more time in prayer on this discernment than perhaps any other. And it has become very clear that this new position is where God is calling.
For roughly the past year and a half, there has been a growing sense that I was perhaps called to do something more for Christ and the Church. Last fall I was asked to consider a diocesan position in LaCrosse and this spring I was approached by the Madison diocese about teaching in their Lay Formation Program. The St. Mary’s Pastoral Associate Position will be an expansion of what I currently do at St. Peter’s, and on a much larger scale as it is the Mother Church of their diocese. The position also includes a large role in forming the Catholic identity of the K-12 Cathedral School. The Cathedral is the model parish for the diocese, and in a certain sense, what is done there, then gets done everywhere else. I will have the opportunity to bring many of the ideas/events we have done at St. Peter’s these past 11 years to them, things like the JPII Retreat, DTS, Men of Christ, Theology on Tap, our very fine marriage preparation program, Café’ Cana, etc. It’s a very exciting opportunity.
St. Peter’s has been very good to me and my family. You first welcomed me in as a single man, and then continued to welcome me upon my marriage to my beloved wife. The ladies of the parish even threw a baby shower for us upon our first pregnancy! I’ll never forget such acts of kindness. I have received much love from this parish and hopefully I have been able to return it in equal measure. Much of the man I am today is due to the influence of the priests, families, and parishioners who have touched my life here. How can I express sufficient gratitude for all that?
In Baptism and Confirmation we die to ourselves and ask Christ to live and work in us. We pray in every “Our Father” that “Thy will be done”. God’s ways are not our ways. I love St. Peter’s and always will; one of the reasons this is so difficult. But God does not call us to a life of comfort and ease, but to a life in His Service, and although that can be difficult, it is where we find our ultimate peace and fulfillment.
I’ll be honest, this moves scares the heck out of me. They say Pope John Paul II, when he first found out he had been named a bishop, quickly found a Eucharistic Chapel and spent the next 8 hours there in prayer asking for the strength to do that which he was being called to do. I feel like doing the same thing! Nonetheless, with confidence that “His grace is sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9) we push forward. St. Peter’s will remain in my prayers and I humbly ask you to keep my family and I in yours.
With much love, affection, and heartfelt gratitude, God bless you!
Director of Catechesis & Evangelization