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Perhaps you remember the song “To Sir, With Love,” from the movie of the same name. Performed by an artist called Lulu, it summarized the human journey of these inner city street kids under the tutelage of Mark Thackery (played by Sidney Portier). My favorite words from the song say this: “How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn’t easy, but I’ll try…”

So, how do you thank a parish who has taken you in and formed and shaped you and welcomed you into their families and lives? It isn’t easy, but I’ll try.

Thank you:
for introducing me to the world called Sprenke
for dinner dances and fish fries and late nights in the parish center..
for men’s clubs and ladies guilds and scouting groups and SA(C)PO and parish councils and finance committees – those who do the ‘work’ of parish life
for field days, held both inside and out
for Advent concerts and mass choirs and amazing songs lifting my heart in praise
for the “St. Ann Diner” experience
for “Recycle dude” and images of Bob Reid balancing a bicycle on his chin…
for talent shows and eighth grade plays and spaghetti suppers and advent liturgies
for parish center kitchen and bathroom renovations, for stage lighting controls and pew re-finishing and internet wiring and pipe organs and sound systems – the stuff we’ve updated and created together…
for heavenly dusters and outdoor gardens tended with loving hands and green thumbs
for rallying so consistently and powerfully around the families of those taken from us way too soon
for kids running amok during fish fries
for quiet servants who do things behind the scenes (you know who you are)
for opening your hearts and pews and lives to the good people from Ascension/St. Paul during our merger
for Halloween parties and Christmas gatherings and jubilee year celebrations
for taking in wounded brothers in the priesthood who needed a place of healing and peace
for the way that you all pray the Our Father TOGETHER – Sunday after Sunday. (listen next time – nobody is ahead of each other, no one is behind – you are ONE when you pray the prayer Jesus taught us…)
for your patience in teaching me how to be not just a good pastor, but a holy priest and hopefully a good man.
for shaping me over half of my priesthood by your kindness and witness and example and challenge and faith.
for leaving footprints all over my heart…

Thank you for being so wonderfully and amazingly and generously YOU…

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