From Father Jerry Riney:
Congratulations to Debbie Osborne! Last weekend on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, Debbie Osborne, wife of Tommy Osborne, received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Debbie has been coming to the Catholic Church for many many years, and was part of the RCIA this past year. The whole community extended their hands over Debbie as I prayed: “Give her the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of right judgment and courage, the Spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill her with the Spirit of wonder and all in your presence.” Which gift of the Holy Spirit do I need?
Bittersweet Farewell—Gratitude Abounds: what I experienced this weekend celebrating all three Masses at the Cathedral is difficult to put into words. Grateful to God‘s call to priesthood, the most satisfying thing I do is celebrate the sacraments, especially Eucharist and Reconciliation. This weekend, it was pure joy to celebrate Eucharist with so many of you! Was not Saint Augustine right on target expressing, “To sing is to pray twice!“ It was wonderful to experience the assembly singing again! Special thanks to James Wells, our Director of Music, for the well chosen music; especially the selections “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” and “Go Walk with God” which were heart moving! It was truly a double blessing for our choir, absent for more than a year, to lead us in song at the 11:00 Mass! I was humbled by the special community blessing at the end of each liturgy with hands of parish pastoral team, pastoral council, and finance council on my head!
Two months ago, retirement was far from my mind. On April 14, I experienced two strokes (one mild); being mute and being paralyzed in my right arm for a few minutes was frightening and a “wake up“ call. After fighting the thought of retiring three years early, I finally surrendered. Consulting my family, medical professionals, and the Holy Spirit, I asked Bishop Medley for early retirement. It was not an easy decision—all I have known was being a priest, and I have loved it!
Gratitude fills my heart as I step aside from full-time priestly ministry. I am grateful for my eight years as shepherd of Saint Stephen Cathedral. You are a wonderful faith community. So often, your faith has “buoyed up” my faith. Faith becomes more mature when it reaches out; I am grateful to so many of you who have “poured out” yourself in ways too many to mention. Your generosity of time, talent, and treasure is noble and inspiring— your reward will be great in heaven. Thank you for your kind heartedness and support over these past eight years at Mother Church. I will miss you.
As well as Father Sinoj Pynadath HGN, and Deacon Richard Murphy, I wish to express heartfelt gratitude to the hard working, servant leadership of our pastoral team. What a blessing they are! Thanks to all of you who have been members of our Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Council, committees, and ministries. Thanks to those of you who have shown the face of Christ to me in big and small ways. How you choose to live your faith is inspiring.
My final hope and request is that you support with open hearts Father John Thomas, your new pastor, arriving on July 13. As part of a “priestly etiquette” I will be stepping away from celebrating funerals, weddings, baptisms at the Cathedral until Father John Thomas has time to become established as your pastor. As you and I, Father John is also imperfect. Surprise! The best you can do as Church is to work/minister with him. Support him. He has much to offer. The times I have grown most are the times that I have been challenged. Do not shy away from people who think differently than you. Wherever we are, may Eucharist never divide us, but unite us into the one living Body of Christ!
Finally, I am overwhelmed by your kindness, cards, gifts, and well wishes. You are truly a reflection of God‘s love to me. Please pray for me as I transition into this new season of my life! I welcome this new venture!
Obligation to Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days Reinstated in the Diocese of Owensboro: there is part of me that regrets this; I’m glad that so many of you have made the decision to celebrate Sunday Eucharist because you want to, not out of a sense of duty or obligation. Yet, perhaps some of us still need “the push” to do what is truly good for our spiritual welfare. Regardless, beginning the weekend of June 12-13, 2021, Bishop Medley, for the good of the faithful, is reinstating the obligation to participate at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation. As has always been the case, those who have a serious reason are exempt from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2181). This includes those who are ill, have significant health risk factors or care for someone who is whose immune system is compromised, as well as those who have significant fear or anxiety of contracting the coronavirus in a large group of persons. Nonetheless, these persons should observe the Lord’s Day (CIC, Canon #1247). You are encouraged to spend time in prayer on Sunday Scripture readings, meditating on the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. The Eucharist is the greatest gift Christ left to His Church—the gift of Himself. There is no substitute for Mass celebrated in person. You are welcome to back with great joy and eagerness!