Dear Parish Family,
This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter, which is commonly called "Good Shepherd Sunday." The Church always reads from St. John's gospel account of Jesus describing his relationship to us, His flock, as a shepherd who guides his sheep. The image of the Good Shepherd also describes the nature of leadership in our Church. Our bishops and priests are called by Jesus to be the clear voice of the Good Shepherd guiding the life of the local Church.
Today I write to tell you that our chief shepherd, Bishop James Checchio, is re-assigning me from pastor of St. Magdalen de Pazzi, to a new role of leadership in our diocese of Metuchen; Vicar for Evangelization and Communications. This is a portion of Bishop Checchio's formal announcement this past week at the Chancery:
"In his role Father Christy will oversee the Office of Diocesan Communications, The Catholic Spirit, the diocesan website and social media, the Office of Evangelization, and the Office of Pontifical Mission Societies. Father Christy will assist the Bishop in giving direction and substance to ensure that all the ministries of the diocese are done through the lens of the New Evangelization."
I am grateful to Bishop Checchio for his confidence in appointing me to this new vital work in our diocese. I am also deeply sad because of my great love for this parish and all of you. I arrived here in Flemington October 4 , 2000. I was assigned as an associate pastor to Father John Barbella and upon his departure in 2002, I was appointed Administrator of the parish. In June of 2003, Bishop Bootkoski appointed me pastor. I can honestly say this parish has been a real home for me. Living with you for these past 17 years has been the most blessed time of my life…and I will be forever grateful to you for your trust, confidence and affection. I have been truly inspired and challenged to want to be a better man and priest because of your faith and witness to God's love. I assure you that I will always carry you in my heart, and include you in my prayers of gratitude to God. "For the people of St. Magdalen's…."
These next few weeks will be a time of transition, for me and for you. I count on your special prayers for all of us.
I will continue as pastor of the parish until the Bishop appoints a new pastor. The Bishop desires a consultative process with the parish by way of the Priest Personnel Board and the Dean of our area so that he may understand the needs of our parish and the qualities necessary to lead this community into the next chapter of faithful discipleship. The processwill take until early to mid-June.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to celebrating with you my 25th Anniversary to the priesthood. I would not want to celebrate it anywhere but here! It will be the 5pm Mass on May 20 and then we are going to have a party! Please come. I do not plan to celebrate any other event to mark my leaving since the time will be short before I depart.
Mary has always been my guide in times of change and transition, especially as a priest. I re-commit myself to her as her son, and ask her now to help me to do the work of her Son Jesus and to be like Him.