Sunday, October 14, 2018

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 14, 2018

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” I believe that I have quoted those words of G. K. Chesterton before, most likely in a column around the holiday of Thanksgiving. But I cannot think of any better sentiment to begin my final Pastor’s Ponderings for the St. Malachy bulletin. I have truly loved my time at St. Malachy, and these past few weeks I keep finding myself thanking God for the past four-and-a-half years. And while I am excited to begin my new adventure – and to get reacquainted with people I have served in the past – I feel a certain sadness at saying goodbye to the people of St. Malachy whom I have come to love. But the sadness hardly compares with the gratitude I feel for what I have experienced.

Thanks be to God for putting me in this beautiful setting. I have said that I was impressed with St. Malachy long before I came here. When I was first ordained and was assigned to St. Francis de Sales in McKees Rocks, we came up here occasionally to help out. I was impressed with the beauty of this church the first time I saw it. I also visited here quite frequently when my good friend Fr. Michael Maranowski was pastor here. Once I moved in, it took quite a while for the novelty to wear off.

Thanks be to God for the staff I have been privileged to work with. It would be hard to find a more dedicated group of people, and their devotion to Christ and His Church are evident to anyone who has the blessing of working closely with them. They have complemented my strengths and weaknesses very well. They have kept St. Malachy running smoothly and have made it look like I knew what I was doing.

Thanks be to God for all of the wonderful parishioners of St. Malachy. I knew that I could always find a true expression of faith when we gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. Our Sunday celebrations were always the highlight of my week. And the community that formed at the 7:15 Mass every weekday morning became a special part of my family. I know that whenever and wherever I celebrate the Eucharist, I will still be in Communion with this parish in the deepest way possible.

Thanks be to God in a special way for Fr. Russell Maurer. We had a professor in the seminary who told us that the most important thing was to have a priestly heart. Fr. Russell, despite his physical limitations, truly has a priestly heart and wants to continue being a priest to the best of his ability. Thanks also for the opportunity to work with Fr. Patrick O’Brien until he could no longer continue.

Thanks be to God for the families of St. Malachy School and CCD programs. When I came here, Fr. Eckman of the Clergy Office told me that they knew they had to send me to a parish with a school since that is so much a part of my ministry. Our students have had some of the best leadership, with Janet Escovitz and Cathy Militzer as school principals, and with Joanne Swank and Steven Swank as Catechetical Administrators. We have wonderful teachers and support staff. But there is a special joy of getting to know the students. With the students, you see the growth more clearly than with adults. I think of when I was preparing to come here and Fr. Michael was showing me around. I met a fifth grader who struck me as a sweet but giggly little girl. I see that same student, now in high school, when she serves as a Lector at Sunday Mass, and I see someone who has grown and matured so dramatically. I am proud to have been part of the lives of these young people. As we often say, “Once a Bomber, always a Bomber.”

So as I leave Kennedy Township, I leave a part of my heart here. For all that I have experienced since April 28, 2014, I have only one thing to say: Deo gratias!

                                                                                        Father H