This, sadly, is my last time writing the introduction to our monthly e-newsletter. From
Friday, July 3, I have been assigned by Bishop Strickland to study Canon Law at the Catholic University of America. On that day Father Denzil Vithange, currently the pastor of St. Joseph's, Marshall, will take over as the director of campus ministry at St. Mary's. He is a man of great joy, vision and determination. He is very well educated and a hard worker. I am sure you will work to make him feel welcome at St. Mary's.
I have had a fantastic time as director and chaplain. Working with our students, with their joys and sorrows, with the tensions and pressures, with the pride of a parent when they do well, has been a blessing from almighty God.
A key component of my ministry has been priorities; that is to say, encouraging students to set goals and to prioritize the tasks necessary to accomplish those goals. The key and primary goal for our students (and for every Christian) is the kingdom of Heaven. Most of us, if not all, agree that this is number one. But how do we actively work towards that goal? Many people live lives oriented towards the material - job, spouse, retirement, etc. - and hope that that will be enough for the kingdom of Heaven. Here at St. Mary's we strive to help our students to make choices that will enable them to live their lives in harmony with God and his plan for each and every one of us.
This surrender to God's will actually liberates us from the tyranny of possessions and the expectations of the world. Trust in God actually allows us to be free from worry and to live lives of joyful sacrifice. I think that is why we have a good number of couples who are dating with the intention of marriage; three men in seminary and one preparing for fall (Andrew Lusk is our newest seminarian and is a graduate of the 2015 class); and why we have a number of women considering religious life.
I am very grateful to Father Paul Key for initiating the search for a campus minister. Jodi Phillips has been with us for two years and has a phenomenal passion for evangelization. Father Paul also got FOCUS (Fellowship Of Catholic University Students) to St. Mary's and SFA. They have had a tremendous effect on campus. I am very grateful for Kim Briggs who predates both Father Paul and myself, particularly for her maternal concern for our students. I have been privileged to work with Mrs. Linda Parr, our music director. She was hired by Father Stephen Duyka twelve years ago and is now preparing to retire from the position. I am sure you will join with me in wishing her every joy and blessing. I am also grateful to Alohma Marquis, our spiritual director, whose straight talking and love keeps us focused on the the Gospel and the one thing that matters - relationship with God. I am grateful for Jose Pinones and his hard work and dedication in his time as our development director. Michael Molina took over as Development Director and Business Manager at the start of the year. In his six months with us, he has brought great joy, great confidence, and a great love of God. I am very grateful for his presence, his experience, and his skill.
Any thanksgiving would be incomplete without thanking you for your continued support of St. Mary's Catholic Campus Ministry. Without your financial and spiritual support, this ministry would not be what it is today. Please continue to support St. Mary's and the work that is done here. In the meantime, please pray for me as I prepare to "go back to school"! It promises to be quite an experience! On my part, I promise to remember you in my prayers.
Goodbye, y'all, and God bless!