December 18, 2011
This farewell homily was given by Monsignor Paul Reynolds to the Parish of St. Andrew in April 2000. Even though it was intended for the St. Andrew parishioners, its simple, though profound, message gives us a glimpse into the heart of this beloved priest. “Father”, as many of us will forever refer to him, taught us all many lessons, but none so encompassing or so foundational to our spiritual health and earthly happiness than having faith. Faith in God’s grace and plan. Faith in each other and in ourselves.
When Thomas More’s daughter, Margaret, visited with him in the Tower of London, she was very upset over his pending death, and he attempted to comfort her by painting a picture of life’s journey as a stagecoach ride. He explained that he was getting off today, but that she would continue by learning how to live while on the stagecoach because she would be getting off tomorrow.
That’s how I feel right now. We have been on this stagecoach ride together, helping one another through our love, support, prayers, faith, and friendship. I have been given charge of this family, by the Father, not because I am worthy, but because of His infinite love. I pray that I have fulfilled my priestly ministry by guiding this parish family, along with the many others that have been entrusted to me over the years.
Is it possible to turn around before stepping down out of the door of this stagecoach and say ‘thank you’ in a way that you will understand? I know that I can never repay all of those who have sustained me on this voyage. But allow me to express my gratitude to each and every one of you who made my life as pastor of this beautiful place, an experience of God’s total unchanging love. Thinking of your participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass fills my heart to overflowing proportions as I am surrounded with your prayers, which are guided by the Holy Spirit and supported by the prayers of Mary and all the saints and angels. I realize that this has been a foretaste of heaven.
Well, the stagecoach is stopping and I have been informed of my departure to another coach. Of course, that means leaving you behind, but I am confident that this family will never stray far from the route that God has planned for you. I pray that God will bless you with every good gift from on high. May he keep you pure and holy in His sight at all times. May he bestow the riches of his grace upon you, bring you the good news of salvation, and always fill you with love for each other.
Yes, you will have a new leader on your journey, and I step off this coach filled with peace knowing that you will show him the same love and support that you have given me. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your parish and your family. I pray for each of you as you continue on your journey and I ask your prayers for me as I stumble onto another coach.
Before composing this little farewell, I took out a book of Our Lady’s school and gazed upon this gorgeous picture of the campus in the fall with the caption written beneath: ‘Sometimes in mid May or mid-September there comes a day suitable for framing. The campus is so lovely that God would enroll at Notre Dame . . . if he could afford it.’
This scene of beauty could not compare to the unending songs of gratitude that are hidden deep in my heart, but I will simply say, “Thank you and may the Risen Lord fill your life with the joy and peace that has been the fabric of my life here and I leave you with this beautiful gift of the Gospel vision of Julian of Norwich, who wrote the loveliest and most healing sentence that I have ever read.”
Sin is behovely
But all shall be well
And all shall be well
And all matter of things
Shall be well.