January 13, 2019

In July of 2015, I became pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady Star of the Sea while maintaining my assignment as pastor here at St. Joseph. In the spring of that year, a consensus emerged among the Archbishop, the Priest Placement Board, and myself that this was the best way to provide pastoral leadership for our three communities, given the resources that were available.

We also decided that we would use this new configuration to give experience to newly ordained priests. Fr. Dean Mbuzi, Fr. Brian Thompson, and Fr. Michael Dion have served as our parochial vicars over this period of time.

We have also worked together to share staff resources, including our Pastoral Assistant for Social Concerns Ministry, David Lester, as well as meeting together periodically as staff and consultative leadership bodies (pastoral councils, finance councils, and various commissions). During this time I think we have grown in our appreciation of the unity we share in the midst of the diversity of our three communities.

Since last summer I have been discerning whether this is still the best model of pastoral leadership for our three communities.  It has become clear to me that I simply cannot be as pastorally present to our three communities as I think we need. Pastoral care by only two priests for three communities our size is very unusual in our archdiocese. While I had great hopes for this model of one pastor and one parochial vicar for our three communities, I no longer have the emotional, spiritual or physical energy to continue effectively leading our three communities.

In July of this year St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady Star of the Sea will be assigned their own pastoral leader.  At that time I will resume my role as full-time pastor at St. Joseph.

This was a difficult decision for me to make, but I must admit that my discernment has led me to a place of great peace and consolation. Admitting my own limits has been a humbling experience for me. But, it has also been an experience of growth knowing that the Lord has always accompanied me, calling me to rely on him.

Over the course of the next several months, let us keep the Archbishop and the Priest Placement Board in our prayers as they discern the best leadership for St. Thomas and Our Lady Star of the Sea, as well as for all of the other parishes throughout the archdiocese that will undergo a transition in leadership this year.

Some may wonder if the Archbishop would assign Fr. Michael as the Priest Administrator at St. Thomas. That is highly unlikely. It would be very difficult for a priest to transition from being a parochial vicar to the pastoral leader in the same parish. It is very likely that Fr. Michael will also move on in July and be assigned as a Priest Administrator at another parish.

Let us also keep our brothers and sisters at St. Thomas and Our Lady Star of the Sea in our prayers during their transition. These next six months will be a time of waiting and anticipation for them as they prepare to welcome a new pastor.

It has been a privilege to serve as your pastor over these past 10 ½ years. I look forward to being able to serve here again full time beginning in July, and work with you in advancing our mission to Love God, Love Our Neighbor and Make Disciples.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni