June 30, 2019

Today marks the end of four years of St. Thomas Aquinas, Our Lady Star of the Sea and St. Joseph sharing one pastor and one parochial vicar. I think I can speak for Fr. Michael when I say this is a bittersweet time for both of us, and for our communities.

It is sweet because Fr. Michael will do what he came here to do – get prepared and then move on to become priest administrator of a parish. He is more than ready to serve in that role and the people at St. Michael in Snohomish will be blessed by his ministry and leadership.

It is a bit bitter for us because Fr. Michael has done far more for us than just live into his priesthood and get prepared to serve as a pastor. Over these past two years he has provided us with loving pastoral care, prayerful presiding at liturgy and thoughtful and inspiring homilies. I have heard from many of you about how Fr. Michael has touched you during his time with us.

Personally, Fr. Michael has touched me as a brother priest and as a collaborator in ministry. His keen intellect is balanced by a genuine sense of humility and a great sense of humor. He has been a fun housemate and I will miss our shared love of cooking, movies and eating good food.

This time is bittersweet for me as well. The privilege of pastoring our three communities over these past four years has been one of the greatest gifts of my priesthood. And while I discerned that I did not have the necessary energy to continue serving in this role, I have been blessed by this opportunity.

This is a sweet time for me because I look forward to being back at St. Joseph full time and giving my energy to pastoring one community. It is also sweet because I am excited about Fr. Raja coming to St. Thomas and Star of the Sea.

One of the things that emerged in my discernment last fall was the need for our communities to have their own resident pastor. I am so grateful to the Archbishop for his willingness to both try this model, and then to agree with my discernment when I shared that I did not think it was working as well as we had hoped.

Even as challenging as these past four years have been for me, they have also included much sweetness. The friendships that have been forged among parishioners and those who serve on our staffs, councils and commissions has been one of the most satisfying aspects of our time together.

St. Thomas, Star of the Sea and St. Joseph are very different communities with very different histories and cultures. Over these past four years I, and others, have been able to enjoy our unity in the midst of our diversity. In some ways I think we have really experienced the “catholic” part of the Church in a profound way.

As we conclude our time together as “linked” communities, we also enjoy the sweet gift of still being connected through the new friendships formed over the past few years as well as a shared staff position. David Lester, our Pastoral Assistant for Social Concerns Ministry, will continue to serve our three communities. I am grateful to David and to Fr. Raja for their willingness to continue this shared position.

As we turn a new page in the life of our three communities, let us continue to hold one another in prayer. May we be open to the new ways in which the Lord is leading our three communities to grow closer to him!

Fr. Gary Lazzeroni