Dear Followers of Jesus,
In Luke 10: 25-27, we hear of the Good Samaritan. A neighbor helping a neighbor. A stranger assisting a stranger. Love is at the heart of such service.
I preach for the last time at Sacred Heart Parish this weekend. Next weekend, Bishop Bill Wack, CSC, and Bishop Golka will preside and preach for our parish centennial. So, I want to take this weekend’s bulletin to say thank you for my nine years as pastor.
Thank you for our years of gathering at the sacred altar, at Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Holy Rosary. Know that every time I raised my arms in prayer at the altar, I lifted the heavy burdens of the people in our parish communities to God. I learned to trust more deeply in God and in your stories of love.
Thank you for walking down the aisles of our churches on special days of First Communions, Weddings, and Confirmations. I saw in your expressions the joy of God and the hope that your life would continue in God’s grace and mercy.
Thank you for those quiet days of prayer at Masses during the week. You showed up to God with so much on your minds and hearts. You received in your hands the power of the Eucharist and you always knew that the secret of life is to live just one day at a time.
Thank you for allowing me to preach at the many funerals we celebrated through the years. Death, no matter how tragic, was a source of deep faith for me as I welcomed grieving people to the consolation of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.
Thank you for the times we journeyed together to a cemetery to bury your loved ones. We walked in the winter cold or summer heat. We gathered members of families who had not always reconciled, or with other families who held each other in shelter from the bitter elements of death.
Thank you for welcoming me into your homes to anoint a severely ill member of the family or the moments you called on behalf of a friend dying in a nursing home. Those moments I carry especially deep in my heart when we all knew that God’s mercy is the only thing we could cling to.
Thank you for offering your feet to be washed on Holy Thursday. The widows, the catechumens, the new parishioners, the older or younger members of the parish, all offered feet to be washed, to imitate the disciples who learned how to serve from Jesus. Continue to wash feet, for he is still among you offering mercy to those wearied by the journey in life.
Thank you for processing to the crucifix on Good Friday for the first time in 2014. It was a hot day and the procession lasted one hour. It was a holy moment. On Good Friday of 2019, I stood on the step of the sanctuary and held up my arm blessing all who approached the cross. I wept knowing so many of your stories. My tears understood the reasons why you would approach the cross of Jesus. I will always remember you at the foot of the cross.
Thank you to those who offered their lives to God on Holy Saturday for Baptism, Confirmation, and sharing Eucharist for the first time. Your commitments during our Easter Vigil still give me great joy. I will remember you in bursts of Alleluias.
Thank you for moments of trust in the confessional. I hold you in the confines of my heart.
Thank you for your patience as we worshiped in a gym for nearly a year at Sacred Heart.
Thank you for your commitment toward the ramp and all the renewals of the building Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Thank you for enduring the cold winter at Holy Rosary without the heat from a boiler. I pray renewal is more than buildings.
Thank you for being patient with me when you did not agree with my decisions. I am sorry I offended and disappointed people with some of my decisions.
Thank you for being patient with me when you were weary of homilies about God’s beloved poor. We are all poor because we all need God.
Thank you for the years of preaching the gospel. The center aisle is my home.
Thank you for serving those many years at the Lord’s Dinner. Thank you for offering nourishment in our food pantry. Thank you for visiting the sick. Thank you for caring for folks around the world with financial help in times of natural disasters. Thank you for providing a space for people to share their stories of recovery from addictions. Thank you for listening to the stranger on the street.
Thank you for offering your hard-earned money to support the parish and the diocese. Thanks for supporting me with shelter and the necessities of life.
Thank you for your patience with our priests who have served here along with me, Fr. Drew, Fr. Bob, and Fr. Randy. Thank you for supporting our parish staff. Thank you for supporting our Holy Cross novices. Thanks for making the spirituality of Holy Cross your own. Continue to pray for me at the altar where the first-class relic of Saint André resides.
Thank you for teaching me to paint and for classes in poetry. Thank you for my first professional art show at Cottonwood Center for the Arts and for my first poetry reading event at The Gallery Below. Creativity is life.
Thank you for loving your children. Thank you for offering faith to your next generation. Thanks for parish gatherings and picnics and for buying my art. Thanks for all that is parish life.
Thank you for the tenderness of your prayer for me, the wisdom you offered me, and the love we shared. I appreciate the conversations held in confidence. Thank you for teaching me how to be a pastor. I hold you in my heart, for all the good times and bad, are worth more than gold.
Thank you for everything. Farewell.
We will celebrate our centennial next weekend with gusto. Come join us.
“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor